RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian government has decided to slash visa fees for Pakistani citizens.
Sources said cut in visa fee was likely to come into effect from February 15.
They said fee for visit visa would be reduced up to 338 Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR) — single entry fee will be 338 SAR and multiple visa fee will be 675 SAR. Currently, visit visa fee is about 2000 SAR.
On the other hand, the Saudi Arabian government has indicated to give e-visa facility to Pakistan through which Pakistani Hajj pilgrims will be able to get visa online, which has been confirmed by Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said the Saudi Arabian authorities had agreed to include Pakistan into their road to Makkah project to complete immigration procedure at Karachi and Lahore airports. He said the government was trying to get this facility extended to Peshawar and Islamabad as well.
The minister said that the Saudi Arabian Hajj authorities were also working out on Pakistan’s demand of providing e-visa facility to Pakistan’s pilgrims.
He said this time direct flights would be operated from Quetta to Medina and Jeddah. He said fresh meal of Pakistani taste would be served to pilgrims during their stay at Mashair.
Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said a temporary Haji Camp will be established at Gilgit for the facilitation of intending pilgrims from Gilgit-Baltistan and mobile biometric verification will be done in far flung areas of the country.
The Minister said social media will be used to guide and train intending pilgrims.
Shedding light on reasons behind raise in Hajj package under government scheme, Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri said increase in currency exchange rate, Saudi taxes, train fare during Mashair and higher air fare and buildings’ rent have caused rise in cost.
The minister said cost of government hajj scheme in terms of dollar was still the lowest among regional countries in terms of dollar.—INP