Prospective pilgrims to Mecca would now have to pay over 500 percent more than they used to for such trips.
The Saudi Arabian government has increased a single entry visa fees to $533. Previously the fee was $93. A multiple entry, 6-month visa would cost $800 and a one-year visa would cost $1333.
The criteria of people exempted from this increase are first time Hajj pilgrims and those travelling for the lesser, non-mandatory pilgrimage called Umrah.
This upward review of visa fees by the Saudi Arabian government has been met with stiff opposition mainly by Islamic countries that perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage. These countries include Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt amongst others.
The secretary general of the Council of Muslin Theologians in South Africa Yusuf Abramjee, said even though the global economy is affecting the Saudi Arabian government “you cannot go and profit from pilgrims. It is wrong. Our religion forbids that.”
He added that even though they have tried contacting the Saudi Arabian government for better discussion there has been no response.
“All the calls for clarity have gone on deaf ears,” Abramjee said.
The increment is however being implemented. The started implementing it from October 2.
The government expects this increase to fetch some income for the country and also reduce their reliance on oil due to the falling prices on the international market.