Saudi Arabia has put a temporary freeze on tourist visas to cope with the rush in Umrah visitors since August 31st.

The kingdom issued 20,000 tourist visas in 2009 compared with 6,000 in 2008. Airport sources said since the beginning of Umrah, more than 1.4 million people have entered the kingdom. The kingdom receives about 15,000 Umrah pilgrims daily while about 10,000 leave daily.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) declined to comment, but Prince Abdullah Bin Saud, chairman of the consultative committee for organisers of tourist trips, said the issue would be discussed with the SCTA president after Eid.

According to airport sources, about 15,000 people arrive daily through the airport to perform Umrah while about 10,000 leave the kingdom daily after performing the rituals.

The sources said since the beginning of the Umrah season in February, more than 1.4 million people had entered the kingdom to perform Umrah.

They expect those who have arrived in the kingdom for Umrah to be leaving the country starting from Ramadan 28, which is the night on which the Imam of the Grand Mosque concludes reciting the Quran.
Source: Gulf News