Saudi tourism ministry issues warning over fake job websites

Saudi tourism ministry issues warning over fake job websites
Saudi tourism ministry issues warning over fake job websites

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Riyadh: Umrah travel agencies and tour operators have nearly doubled the price of tour packages per person, with fees expected to triple in anticipation of a heavy rush during Qiyam Al-Layl, the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Umrah travel operators in Riyadh have almost doubled the price of individual tour bus packages from the regular fare of SR110 ($30) to up to SR200.

This fee will further increase to between SR250 and SR300 during the Qiyam Al-Layl, said tour operators in Hai Al-Wizarat district.

“The hike in the Umrah package prices is due to the huge rush of pilgrims during Ramadan,” said tour operator Al-Fajr, also citing an increase in value-added tax to 15 percent as one of the reasons for soaring prices when compared to pre-pandemic years.

“Most people want to spend Ramadan in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah,” Abdur Rahman Oomeri, a Riyadh resident who came to inquire about Umrah packages, told Arab News.

There are about 100 Umrah travel operators spread throughout the capital, most of them in the districts of Hai Al-Wizarat and Batha.

Rises in Umrah package prices are seen every year during Ramadan, only halting with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since pandemic restrictions were lifted, however, prices have soared due to a high influx of Umrah pilgrims returning to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Flights from Riyadh to Jeddah are also filling up quickly.

“Tickets for some of the closer dates are not available as they sold out amid the heavy Ramadan rush,” Mohammed Aslam Jameel, a supervisor at a Riyadh travel company, told Arab News.

“I booked a Riyadh to Jeddah round trip for Friday (March 22) for my family in the third week of February 2024 and it cost me SR592 per person, but after checking the price of tickets now, I can tell you they range between SR1,000 to SR1,500. For next week, it costs about SR2,000 and if you want to travel during the Qiyam Al-Layl, it will cost about SR2,500.  

“There are comparatively cheaper tickets for odd timings, but they too will total around SR1,000 now,” he added.

Ticket prices for international flights too have soared on dates close to Eid Al-Fitr as many expatriates plan to travel back home to celebrate Eid with their family and friends. Final exams in international schools are also over now and classes will resume when schools reopen after Eid Al-Fitr.    

Mohammed Serajuddin, an Indian working with the King Saud University and who is traveling to India on April 4 to join his family for Eid celebrations, told Arab News: “I booked my Riyadh to New Delhi ticket on Feb. 28, which cost me SR985, but now if I book the ticket for the same date, it will cost about SR1,200.”


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