Saudi Arabia is considering to allow women to perform Hajj without a male guardian, claims the Arab News. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is exploring various visa options that would allow women to perform pilgrimage without a male guardian.
Currently, women are expected to travel to the Kingdom with their mahram(male guardian) or be received by him upon arrival in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. Women aged above 45, however, do not require a male guardian to perform pilgrimage if they are travelling in an organized group. This development comes in line with the recent reforms introduced in the Hajj and Umrah sector.
If a woman travels through a group and without a mahram she must submit a notarized letter of no objection from someone considered her male guardian, authorizing travel for Hajj or Umrah purpose.
The regulation bounded each Umrah and Hajj firm to have two branches, employ 20 staff and spend at least SR1 million ($266,666) annually even if it did not receive a single pilgrim
Arab News claims the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is exploring visa possibilities to issue both tourism and Umrah visas to women which will pave way for them to perform Hajj without a male guardian.
While the decision may seem to be directly linked to the wave of women empowerment in Saudi Arabia, the idea is aligned to support the falling Hajj and Umrah tour companies. The Ministry has pitched the recommendation after they were urged to intervene in the sector to protect the businesses.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten approved updates to Umrah services following a meeting with the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah to discuss updates to regulations and instructions for Umrah companies.
As the regulations, Umrah firms had raised concerns over the news regulation, warning that nearly 200 companies will cease to operate if authorities do not step in.
The regulation bounded each Umrah and Hajj firm to have two branches, employ 20 staff and spend at least SR1 million ($266,666) annually even if it did not receive a single pilgrim. The majority of companies operating in this sector were small and could not bear such costs, he added.
There were nearly 700 companies in the market out of that only 500 were in the markets functioning at 1% of their capacity.
Hence a series of the provisions were made to facilitate the Hajj and Umrah firms including giving pilgrims greater flexibility on transport options, the introduction of Maqam-an online platform for Muslims to apply for Umrah package from across the world digitally.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is mulling possibility of allowing women to perform Hajj without a male guardian. https://t.co/ofqKIroA7T
— Shehzad Younis (@shehzadyounis) October 21, 2019