Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of a unified government platform of ‘Nusuk', the first-ever planning, booking and advice platform for Umrah travellers to holy sites in the country. It was also announced that the first direct flights from India to the Muslim holy city of Madinah will start from Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
The announcements were made at the 'Nusuk Roadshow' on Wednesday which was attended by Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia's minister for Hajj and Umrah.
Umrah and Haj
Umrah is a 'lesser' and non-obligatory pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites and can be performed at any time of the year, unlike the five-day Haj which is an obligatory duty for all Muslims who are financially and physically fit to undertake the pilgrimage.
Al-Rabiah is in India with a large delegation of government officials and representatives of private tour and hospitality companies as part of the plan to strengthen collaboration and streamline travel facilities for Umrah pilgrims. According to the Saudi Arabian government, India is the third largest source of religious tourism. The new 'Nusuk' applications will help streamline journey processes for Umrah pilgrims, offering travel packages ranging from four hours to 20 days, it was announced.
Wednesday's roadshow was mainly meant to familiarise tour companies on how to use the new facilities. Apart from showcasing the Nusuk application, the event also discussed the Tasheer e-visa.
Saudi Vision 2030
The minister's visit is part of “Saudi Vision 2030”, a plan by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the kingdom's revenues by reducing its dependence on petroleum exports, and reforming its economy and society.
An official statement issued by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in India said, “The visit (of Al-Rabiah) aims to introduce the array of facilities available to the guests of Allah from India, emphasizing the distinctive benefits of the electronic Umrah visa and the Nusuk platform, reinforcing the commitment to providing exceptional services”.