UAE authorities have announced that residents wishing to perform Haj this year can register from February 13 to March 10. Since the announcement, Haj operators have recorded heavy inquiries for the pilgrimage. Due to massive interest from residents, operators have urged the people to register within this month.
“We request residents to apply for Haj within this months as the seats will fill up soon due to the many inquiries we are receiving every day,” said Shebin Rasheed from Bait al Ateeq Hajj services based in the holy city of Makkah with a subsidiary office in Sharjah. The agency provides visas to the residents and the Haj operators based in the country.
“However, we have a limited number of days and once the preparation for the Holy Month of Ramadan begins, the process slows down considerably,” said Rasheed.
Even though operators cater to every nationality, they have to distribute seats within the limited number of available quotas given to them from each country of expats.
“For example, there are nearly 175,000 applications allotted from Saudi Arabia to India. The Haj board, under the Indian Government, keeps 80 per cent of the quota, and the remaining is offered to the private Haj operators,” said Jaffer Pulappatta, who facilitates groups for Haj pilgrims.
“In the 20 per cent offered, we reserve the seats from a private agency based in India for the Indian Nationals in the UAE, and the person can fly and return to UAE rather than his home country,” added Pulappatta.
Emirati nationals do not require a visa to perform Haj but require a permit.
How much it costs
The total pilgrimage package varies depending on nationalities and port of departure. The Haj package for an Indian expat in UAE may cost between Dh30,000 to Dh55,000, depending on the amenities and accommodation. But it is nearly Dh15,000 less expensive for Indians performing Haj on government quota, which is difficult for expats to avail.
“It is difficult for expats to perform Haj from their home country. In the government quota in some countries, the passport should be submitted months before the travel, which is not feasible due to work commitments,” said Pulappatta.
Travelling under government quota from the home country requires 40 days. “However, expats travelling from UAE can be offered two packages, 15 days and 21 days. The price of the latter is slightly high,” said Pulapatta.
The main document required is a passport copy, photo, and vaccination certificate. “The vaccination certificate is not mandatory, but the presence of yellow fever makes it a requirement,” said Rasheed.
This year, Saudi Arabia will not impose restrictions on the number of pilgrims for this year’s Haj after three years of Covid-19 curbs.
The airline catering to Haj pilgrims from the UAE is Saudi Arabian Airlines, “Other airlines that touch the Haj terminal at Jeddah Airport also facilitate the travel,” said Rasheed.
Internal travel within Saudi is done by bus.
Dubai residents depart from the airports in the UAE from separate Haj-designated gates and land in Jeddah. “At the arrival airport, we have our buses to take the pilgrims to Makkah and then to Madina,” said Rasheed.
“On the way to three cities, we also take the pilgrims to various historical sites to make the best experience and return to the destination either from Jeddah or Madina based on the availability of the ticket,”