JEDDAH: For the first time, Saudi Arabia is considering to allow women pilgrims to perform Hajj or Umrah without a male guardian.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is exploring various visa options that will allow unchaperoned women to perform Hajj or Umrah.
Currently, any woman under the age of 45 wishing to perform Hajj or Umrah must travel with a mahram—a male “guardian.”
According to a report published by Riyadh-based news publication Arab News, the country’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is “conducting studies to issue visit visas for both tourism and Umrah purposes and that this process is expected to grant female pilgrims their right to travel to the kingdom more independently.”
Abdullah Al Qadi, Deputy Chairman of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah while speaking to ‘Ya hala’ show made the announcement that the requirement of the male guardian for women over the age of 18 years coming to perform Umrah will be abolished.
Now, instead of approaching travel agents, people can easily obtain an Umrah visa through the Maqam portal.
Maqam, an online platform designed so that Muslims across the globe can apply for an Umrah package digitally.
Al Qadi said that a person with Umrah visa will be able to tour freely throughout the kingdom and can attend events unlike earlier when Umrah visa can only be used to go to Makkah and Madina.
Also, a person on a tourist visa can perform Umrah.
The recent development comes months after the kingdom eases travel restrictions on women and granted Saudi women the right to apply for passports and travel abroad without permission from a male “guardian.”
In other changes unveiled earlier, Saudi women were also granted the right to officially register childbirth, marriage or divorce and to be recognised as a guardian to children who are minors — same as men.