RIYADH: Umrah travel operators in the capital have doubled pilgrims’ tour packages from the original price of SR90 ($24) to SR180 in anticipation of a heavy rush during the Ramadan season.
The hike in the package prices becomes effective Thursday due to the rush of pilgrims during the latter part of the holy month.
The peak season this year coincides with the summer holidays. Many vacationers are expected to participate in the pilgrimage once they return from holiday.
Fares on luxury coaches from Riyadh to Makkah, including accommodation in the holy city, will cost SR170 per pilgrim. There will be an additional charge of SR10 if the pilgrim chooses to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah en route to Makkah. An additional payment of SR70 per pilgrim may be required to stay in four-star hotels in the holy city.
Weekend packages for trips to Makkah and Madinah start at 4 p.m. from Riyadh on Thursday and finish at midnight on Saturday, according to a sales executive from Riyadh travel operator Ar-Sahr.
Each family is given a large room while single men must share a room with three other pilgrims. Children under 12 are charged half fare. The Ar-Sahr tour operator said he would provide three-star hotel accommodation.
During the journey, coaches stop at three points for Maghreb prayers, Isha prayers and for dinner. Pilgrims change into their ihram at Meeqat in Taif. Pilgrims are given half an hour to don their ihrams at the Meeqat point so they can perform Fajr prayers in Makkah.
Hotels in Madinah, in liaison with tour operators, have arranged city tours to historical sites for pilgrims who come to Madinah to visit the Prophet’s Mosque.
Places of interest include the Quba and Qiblatain mosques, and the graveyard on the foothills of Mount Uhud.
There are nearly 300 Umrah travel operators in Riyadh.