RIYADH: A total of 18 lakh Indian Muslims performed Umrah in 2023 — the third highest in the world, Saudi Arabia government officials said on Wednesday.
The officials said they anticipate a yearly increment in the number, according to an official statement issued by the country.
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken any time of the year.
Indian Muslim Umrah performers ranked third highest among countries, reaching 18 lakh visitors, the officials said.
They did not mention the names of the top two countries accounting for the highest Umrah performers.
Highlighting the significance of India in the Umrah sector, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, made the first-ever visit to India in early December.
The minister participated in an introduction meeting organised by the unified government platform ‘Nusuk’ from December 4 to 6.
The event showcased the platform’s unique services and facilities to Muslim guests worldwide, with a special focus on those from India. Dr Al-Rabiah addressed concerns, proposed initial solutions, and set the stage for collaboration.
Nusuk has been launched by Saudi Arabia to streamline the process of obtaining electronic visas and automating access procedures for Umrah and visits to the Prophet’s Mosque.
The platform engages in extensive partnerships through regional and international roadshows.
A representative from an Indian Travel and Tourism Agency emphasised that Nusuk will significantly contribute to facilitating Umrah for Indian visitors, elevating service standards.
Hasan Al-Dabbagh, President of APAC Markets at the Saudi Tourism Authority, highlighted the platform’s role in developing an integrated ecosystem for the Umrah sector.
This allows the private sector in Saudi Arabia and globally, particularly in India, to serve the guests of the Rahman, benefiting from the platform’s services, he said.
Since its launch, Nusuk has empowered the private sector by sharing data, providing training courses, and strategically connecting service providers with visitors.