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'Nusuk' app and website to boost Saudi's pilgrimage facilities

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Nusuk app and website to boost Saudis pilgrimage facilities
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Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister, Dr Tawfiq Arrabia, who inaugurated the 'Nusuk' roadshow in Mumbai, visited the pavilion alongside Hassan Ali Dabbagh, the President of the Saudi Tourism Authority Asia Pacific (left).

Saudi Arabia is developing smooth and diverse travel routes for devotees visiting the house of God and holy cities. Various plans are underway to simplify and enhance the pilgrimage experience, making it attractive by removing obstacles before pilgrims and facilitating Hajj, a lifelong dream of every believer, and Umrah, a visit to the Kaaba—the first house of Allah on earth as a seamless process. As part of Saudi Vision 2030, extensive programs have been devised to attract more visitors to Saudi Arabia, where Islamic history and civilization intertwine with Arabic culture. Projects connecting Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages with tourism are also a key focus of the vision.

For those preparing for the pilgrimage without the assistance of middlemen and facilitators, the administration has streamlined the process. From visa procedures to visiting Makkah and Madinah, pilgrims can explore various historical and heritage sites in Saudi Arabia and appreciate the beauty of the desert and Arabia. With over 10,000 ancient sites and seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites across Saudi Arabia, the experience is enriched for those embarking on this sacred journey.

Embark on the Umrah pilgrimage and explore Arabia!

Those travelling on Umrah visas will now have the opportunity to explore the whole of Saudi Arabia instead of being restricted to the two Harams as was the case earlier. For those planning to do Umrah and visit Madinah, a range of facilities is provided, including online entry visas, accommodation in holy cities, meals, flights to various destinations, taxi services, tourist transportation, and the assistance of guides for pilgrimages and visits. These facilities aim to make individual pilgrimage experiences more accessible.

To facilitate all this, an official Saudi platform called 'Nusuk' was established in November 2022. 'Nusuk' will soon offer services such as Tawaf (circumambulation of the Holy Ka'aba) tracking for pilgrims, booking visits to Rawdha (the final resting place of the Prophet in Madinah), exploring major tourist centres, and organizing travel routes. The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with the Saudi Tourism Authority, has developed the 'Nusuk' app and website. Additionally, 300 organizations are working in cooperation with the government across categories such as air travel, domestic transport in Saudi Arabia, accommodation facilities, and logistics services.

The decision to expand the Nusuk system is part of an effort to make the visit of foreigners to Saudi Arabia a memorable experience. The "Itamarna" app, which initially gave a three-month validity period for Umrah visas and offered Umrah facility on a four-day transit visa, has now transformed into the Nusuk app with more extensive facilities. Saudi Arabia aims to simplify the pilgrimage for individuals coming from any part of the world. Dr. Tawfiq Rabia, the Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister, states that Nusuk aims to streamline the entry process into the country and enhance the Umrah experience by providing essential information, spiritual insights, and cultural understanding.

During the last Hajj, the Saudi government provided an opportunity for pilgrims from 60 countries, including from America, Europe, and Australia to perform Hajj through this app. With the success of that initiative, Nusuk is organizing a 'Nusuk Road Show' to promote the app and establish international partnerships. The Indian edition of the event, jointly organized by the Ministry of Hajj and the Saudi Tourism Authority, took place in Mumbai on December 5 and 6.

Indian pilgrims the main target

Last year, 1.8 million pilgrims from India visited Saudi Arabia for Umrah, marking the country's third position in terms of visitors. Saudi authorities aim to double this number in the following year. When the Minister, Dr. Tawfiq Arrabiah, visited India his ministry's team was also with him in Mumbai in collaboration with the Saudi Tourism Authority. The Minister's visit and roadshow aimed to enhance services for pilgrims by partnering with the private sector, persuading Indian authorities about new procedures, and establishing cooperation agreements with private sector Hajj Umrah service providers.

During discussions with Union Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, and Minister of State, V Muraleedharan in New Delhi, Saudi Minister Dr Rabia convinced Indian authorities about the government's new mechanisms to simplify the process of visiting Saudi Arabia. Both sides emphasized the need for cooperation between the two countries to improve facilities for Indian pilgrims.

Additionally, the minister and the delegation engaged in discussions with investors and agencies in the field of Umrah and travel tourism in India. The purpose of the visit was to introduce the benefits of the 'Nusuk' platform and the Tashir e-Visa system. Saudi government-owned carriers Saudia and Flynas Airlines operate 285 direct weekly flights to Jeddah, complemented by five Indian airlines. It is also highlighted that, as the number of pilgrims increases, airfare can potentially be reduced. Saudi Arabia aims to host 12 million pilgrims from India by 2030, with a substantial increase in pilgrimage facilities.

As part of the Mumbai Roadshow, Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with various travel and Umrah agencies, as mentioned by Hassan Ali Dabbagh, President of the Asia-Pacific Region of the Saudi Tourism Authority. 'Nusuk' also provides an opportunity for pilgrims to perform Umrah and Hajj individually, eliminating the hassles of travel, entry, accommodation, and transportation. Furthermore, it opens the way for the participation of entrepreneurs offering various services to Hajj-Umrah pilgrims. The authorities are on a grand mission to create transparent and smooth arrangements to fulfil the dreams of pilgrims and position Saudi Arabia at the forefront of the world travel map by 2030.

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TAGS:Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaUmrahHajjPilgrimageMiddle East NewsNusuk
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