Damascus: Umrah and hajj travel agencies resume trips to Saudi Arabia

Syrian pilgrims from the northern region return via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey - July 25, 2022 (Enab Baladi/Iyad Abdul Jawad)

Syrian pilgrims from the northern region return via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey - July 25, 2022 (Enab Baladi/Iyad Abdul Jawad)


A number of travel agencies in Damascus and its countryside have resumed their work in registering for trips to Saudi Arabia for the purpose of hajj and umrah, according to local sources met by Enab Baladi, despite the absence of an official announcement that the upcoming hajj file will be managed by the regime’s government.

This came after the Syrian Ambassador in Riyadh, Ayman Soussan, stated in remarks reported by the local Al-Watan newspaper at the beginning of February, that Syrian pilgrims will start their hajj journey from Syria, under the management of the Syrian Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments), after 12 years since the file was taken from the government’s hands.

The Minister of Awqaf in the Syrian regime’s government, Abdul Sattar al-Sayed, announced that he will visit Saudi Arabia next March to sign an agreement in this regard.

During September 2023, the Saudi Embassy issued visas electronically to Syrian umrah pilgrims through special agent offices contracted with travel agencies in Syria, but stopped after one month.

Umrah trips

Mohammad Bishr (a pseudonym for security reasons), a religious guide at one of the hajj and umrah service offices in Kafr Sousa district in Damascus, told Enab Baladi that preparations for dispatching the first caravan to perform the umrah rituals since 2013 are almost complete, explaining that departure will be through the Saudi Embassy in Jordan, not from Damascus.

He added that the Saudi Embassy in Damascus informed them that it is completing some procedures and will be ready for the next hajj season to manage the travelers’ affairs.

According to Bishr, the office is receiving hajj requests, which are witnessing a significant turnout especially after years of hiatus, noting that the final cost has not yet been determined, without clarifying the means of travel, whether through Syrian airlines or neighboring countries.

Could reach 15 million Syrian pounds

For his part, Majd al-Din, the owner of an office in the Damascus countryside for organizing umrah trips, said that the trip costs range between 7 and 15 million Syrian pounds, including the visa cost and transportation, and that the cost varies according to the duration of stay, which can be up to 15 days.

Majd al-Din explained that a group of umrah pilgrims was prepared, numbering about 50 people within less than a month, and will depart within a week, which confirms the “longing” of the people for such trips despite the deteriorating living situation, according to the office owner.

Adnan (59 years old) told Enab Baladi that he is determined to go on this year’s hajj, pointing out that he will have to sell a piece of land he owns to cover the costs, which will not be less than 20 million pounds.

Since 2013, the Supreme Hajj Committee of the opposition’s Syrian National Coalition has been managing the hajj file in coordination with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj, with diplomatic relations suspended since then until last year between Saudi Arabia and the Syrian regime.

On January 10th of the previous year, Syrian accounts on social media circulated a report that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj had signed an agreement with the Ministry of Awqaf in the Syrian regime’s government to hand over the management of the hajj file.

However, there has been no official news on the signing of the hajj protocol from the Saudi side with officials from the Syrian Ministry of Awqaf, or a decision from the Saudi Ministry of Hajj to hand over the hajj file to Damascus, until the publication of this report.


النسخة العربية من المقال

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  3. Syrian Endowments Ministry: This year’s Hajj and Umrah will be through Damascus
  4. Syrian opposition’s Supreme Hajj Committee: No changes in the hajj file

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