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Qatar World Cup: Saudi Arabia offers free Umrah visa for ticket holders

Muslim football fans travelling to Qatar can enter neighbouring Gulf country for up to two months to perform religious rites in Mecca
Thousands of Muslims gather at the Grand Mosque in Islam's holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia (AFP)
Thousands of Muslims gather at the Grand Mosque in Islam's holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia (AFP)

Muslim holders of World Cup tickets will be able to perform the umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia without the need to pay for a visa, the Gulf kingdom has announced. 

Those with a Hayya card, the document given to fans attending World Cup matches in Qatar, will not need to pay to do the year-round pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca. 

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Khaled al-Shammari, an assistant director of the visa department at the Saudi foreign ministry, announced on Friday that Hayya card holders could stay in Saudi Arabia for up to two months, ending on 11 January next year. 

“The visa is free but medical insurance must be obtained from the visa platform,” Shammari told Ekhbariya TV. 

He added that cardholders could enter and exit Saudi Arabia multiple times during the two month period, without needing to have entered Qatar.

As well as the host nation, those attending the tournament, which kicks off on 20 November, will also stay in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates

During the World Cup, there will be a daily airlift of 160 shuttle service flights from cities across the Gulf region to and from Doha. 

The UAE is also offering multiple-entry visas at the nominal fee of 100 dirhams ($27) to people with tickets for World Cup matches.

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