'300 pilgrims only had tourist visas'

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of prospective haj pilgrims who claimed they were denied permission to perform the haj recently were not eligible to do it because they had not applied for a haj visa.

Malaysian Umrah & Haj Travel Agency Association (Papuh) president Datuk Seri Razali Mohd Sham said this group had only tourist visas, which allow them to be in Saudi Arabia for the designated period but prohibit them from entering Arafah.

The plains or Mount of Arafat is an area designated for pilgrims to observe wukuf, a standing, prayer ritual on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Zulhijah.

He said those who entered with umrah visas were the only ones ordered to return so that the quota for pilgrims arriving from the rest of the world would not be taken up, allowing them to perform their pilgrimage comfortably at Masjidil Haram in Makkah.

According to an infographic shared on X, the Saudi Arabian interior minister announced a penalty of 10,000 riyals for violating regulations, such as the ban on entering seven specific areas without a haj visa for this year.

The designated areas are Makkah, the central region; Masayir; the Haramain train station in Rusayfah; security control centres; quarantine centres; and temporary security control centres.

"So the post by a Facebook user on the 'Forum Umrah DIY' page is dubious because it is based on a statement from a friend in Saudi Arabia.

"What can be said is that there may have been confusion between the agency and the group of pilgrims.

"They actually went as tourists, not as prospective haj pilgrims," Razali told Berita Harian yesterday.

On May 11, it was reported that around 300 Malaysian pilgrims in Makkah could not perform the haj as the umrah tour agency responsible for organising their pilgrimage had applied for tourist visas instead of haj visas.

In a post on the 'Forum Umrah DIY' page on Facebook, Zhyema Zhyedee said her friend, who is among the affected pilgrims, had reached out to her for assistance after realising the group had been misled by the company.

She claimed the tour agency assured her friend that pilgrims would get bracelets, which would permit them to perform the haj, but the promise was unfulfilled.

These prospective pilgrims realised they were deceived after discovering that the agency's cheap haj package used tourist visas for the pilgrimage.

Razali said that to perform haj, an application must be made and permission must be obtained before the date of the wukuf.

"But this group went to Saudi Arabia during the month of Syawal.

"This means all these claims involve only the travel agency that took them there."

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories