So this happened today!
We were planning an amazing Umrah with friends for the last 10 nights of Ramadan. We have people coming from 4 countries to Saudi and the one who organised it and helped (aka me) will sadly be missing out. 🙁
We applied for our visas for Umrah 2 weeks ago. As it is the standard procedure. We paid 900QAR which is £200 for both visas.
As residents in Qatar we can issue the visas from here with our residence permit or we could have posted them to the UK to get them issued. Funny thing when we came I was really stressed that I might not have my residence permit on time for applying from here and had to go to the UK. Now, I wish this was the case so I would actually end up with visas.
So after two weeks, the MOFA (online Saudi service for Umrah visa) application had been approved and the passports were sent to the embsassy to be stamped (standard process). The embassy held the passports for a few days before they finally returned them to us.
But there was a problem. No visa. (Even though it had been approved online!)
We were told that Saudi will not stamp the passport with Umrah visa for anyone. We are not the only ones affected sadly as every other expat is also affected. Hundreds of passports have been returned. Unfortunately, the Saudi embassy here doesn’t say whether they will stamp them or not, the agents simply don’t have the answers. They have told them to go back on the 11th of June to check if they will. We are supposed to fly out on the 15th which is now not going to happen. 🙁
The application for Umrah closes 15 days before the end of Ramadan and opens about 2 months after Hajj.
We could have gone to the UK, wait if I fly out tonight and get them to my agent in time they should be able to issue them but then there is a 50/50 chance they might get denied due to our residency. So I can spend an extra £1,100 and not be sure if I will get one.
My chances of performing Umrah in Ramadan this year seem bleak and I have to say I am very upset. We had planned this trip with so much excitement. We changed the days about 5 times but we thought there is no better time than the last 10 nights of Ramadan ( if we knew).
The one thing I am very happy about is the fact I didn’t book flights and my hotels are refundable. This is one of the things I always try and do with when going for Umrah, getting refundable hotels. Things always change and there is too much cash at stake. I am still going on with my Masterclass on the 11th to show people how they can get the best deals on refundable Umrah hotels. Sadly in cases like this, I know people losing thousands of pounds on hotels and flights.
I don’t get into politics but all I’m going to say is that Umrah and any other religious pilgrimage anywhere in the world should be politics-free!
Also currently there are no refunds issued for the cost of the visas. Judging by previous experiences with people paying the fees, like the hiked £500 visa fee last year they never received refunds back from the embassy. I will be trying to claim this on my card.
If you are in the same boat with visas from Doha let me know if you have any news.
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