Mecca, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports has called upon all the remaining Umrah pilgrims to depart from the kingdom and return to their homelands as soon as possible. Those who remain will be subject to legal procedures and would incur monetary fines. The Umrah season, which ends mid-Shawwal of every year, has come to an end a few days ago.
Last Saturday, a national campaign was launched by the General Directorate of Passports to track down pilgrims whose Umrah visas had expired and who had still not left Mecca.
Colonel A’id al Luqumani, the director of Mecca’s General Directorate of Passports told Asharq Al-Awsat that, “five fieldwork teams from the directorate patrols have been dispatched throughout the neighborhoods in Mecca with the intention of carrying out the national campaign. These pilgrims’ overstay has violated the stipulated laws and regulations pertaining to Umrah.”
He disclosed that, “During the first day of the campaign, the aforementioned teams apprehended 921 pilgrims of various nationalities whose visas had expired and who had not returned home.” The colonel added that the campaign would continue to the end of next month and will be executed on a two-shift basis.
Colonel al Luqumani called upon the citizens and residents of Mecca to not assist or enable pilgrims to prolong their illegal stay, including offering them jobs and accommodation or even to attempting to conceal them, so as not to be held accountable as accomplices. He also revealed that the regions of al Mansour, al Otaibiyah and al Rasifah were the areas in which the largest numbers had been seized.
The General Directorate of Passports has warned that any citizens or residents of Mecca found guilty of concealing, cooperating or harboring any violator would be subject to severe penalties; a month of imprisonment and a 50,000 Saudi Riyals (SAR) fine [approximately US $13,385].