DIY Umrah – what’s new for 2024?

Independent Umrah – we find out the latest from the travel experts at HalalBooking.

Umrah is a unique spiritual journey. The blessings of Umrah and the experience which it offers may be timeless, but over the past few years a lot has changed to make it easier than ever to plan your own independent Umrah trip, known as DIY Umrah.

It’s understandable if you are struggling to keep up with the changes, which is why Islam Channel spoke to travel expert, Ufuk Seçgin, Chief Marketing Officer of world-leading online accommodation booking platform, HalalBooking, to see what is new.

“It’s now very easy to get an online visa with a few clicks”

“Back in 2019, the Saudi authorities announced the introduction of an online visa service to replace the old-fashioned Umrah visas. Previously, most pilgrims had had to travel as part of a group and book through a specialist agency, offering little flexibility. The new eVisas were a game-changer.”

He continued: “There are now 63 nationalities eligible for an eVisa for entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia including British passport-holders. New nationalities are being added all the time and some people are also eligible to get visas on arrival. These tourist visas can be used for Umrah, but not for Hajj.”

“This has created a huge demand on HalalBooking from those who want to book their own hotels in Makkah or Madinah. We have reacted to that demand very quickly by developing new filters. So, on the website, you can now filter for Makkah hotels with a Kaaba view or with a Masjid al-Haram view, or for hotels within walking distance of the Haram.”

“There are different features which help the user to find the right hotel in Makkah and Madinah. That’s a new trend for us.”

Unique Umrah features help you find the best hotel

“At HalalBooking we work with hundreds of hotels in Makkah and Madinah and our unique filters allow you to find the one which is best for you and your family according to your budget and requirements.”

HalalBooking’s unique Umrah features and filters make it the only place where you can find such detailed information about hotels in the holy cities. For example, in Makkah you can see which rooms have Kaaba and Haram views and whether there is a Haram-connected prayer hall. In Madinah, you can even see which direction your hotel is facing, so you can see whether you will be facing towards or away from the Masjid an-Nabawi when you pray in your room.

Find hotels within walking distance of the Haram

There are also features which will be especially useful for those who have difficulty in walking or who are travelling with elderly relatives or young children. You can see exactly how far it is to walk to the nearest gate of the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah or the Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah and sort your shortlisted hotels according to the walking distance from the Haram. In Madinah, you can even see how long it takes to walk to the Ladies section.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, which may be a little further away, you can see whether or not there is a free shuttle service.

How to plan your DIY Umrah

Once you have chosen from the hundreds of hotels available on HalalBooking and booked your accommodation, you simply book the other elements of your package yourself, exactly as you would with any other trip. It’s now very easy to book everything online, from flights to local travel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to your Umrah appointment itself.  There are many airlines which fly direct from the UK to Jeddahs King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) or to Madinah’s Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport (MED), or you could choose to stop off en route – Istanbul and Dubai are both popular stop-over destinations.

Once you are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia it is very easy to get around by using the Haramain High Speed Railway, which runs between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. You can buy tickets online on the official website.

For further information, read HalalBooking’s blog article ‘Guide to DIY Umrah’ which is full of useful information and tips.

HalalBooking is a shortlisted finalist in Islam Channel’s Business Awards.

© Image courtesy of Saudi Tourism Authority


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