Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Thursday launched Nusuk, an electronic platform to provide services to local and international pilgrims.
The Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfiq Al Rabiah, announced the official launch of the national platform for Hajj and Umrah, during his participation in the Digital Government Forum 2022, titled Towards a Promising Digital Horizon.
He said that the platform currently offers more than 121 services to assist the arrival of pilgrims from all over the world.
The Ministry of Haj and Umrah on Thursday revealed that more than three million visas have been issued to those wishing to perform Umrah, from 176 countries, since the beginning of the Umrah season that started on July 30.
The kingdom has also lifted all travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic and has extended the Umrah visa duration to 90 days as well as opened the electronic visa option to include all citizens and residents of the European Union, the United kingdom and the United States, and citizens and residents of GCC countries.
Saudi Arabia aims to launch many more services, packages and options to Umrah pilgrims to enjoy different experiences in the kingdom.
What is Nusuk?
Nusuk offers a user-friendly platform for international pilgrims to help plan their visit the kingdom. It is for visitors who plan to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Nusuk is one of the initiatives of the Pilgrims Service Programme, launched by the Ministry of Hajj in co-operation and partnership with the Saudi Tourism Authority, as a unified official platform that enables those wishing to perform Umrah or visit to secure visas and permits.
Users can book for Umrah and to visit the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah through the portal.
Nusuk also assists users in applying for an e-visa, and booking flights and hotel accommodation.
It also lists holy sites that pilgrims may wish to visit during their trip to the kingdom and offers a list of transport options they can use while travelling within the country.
Nusuk is linked automatically to Saudi Arabia's official tourism website.
The platform will soon have interactive maps for users, an events calendar with unique offers and a digital guide to the kingdom's policies in different languages.
What is happening to Maqam?
Services offered on Maqam, which is already operational, will transfer to Nusuk later, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Maqam helps international pilgrims to choose Umrah packages from authorised agents, apply for visas, flights and accommodation as well as book domestic tourism packages.
International pilgrims can choose Umrah packages from authorised agents in their home country and complete the visa-application procedures. Once the authorisation process is complete applicants will receive a reference number to complete the online payment. The e-visa will be issued through the online platform within 24 hours.
Maqam helps authorise e-marketing platforms that provide services to pilgrims to officially integrate with housing, transport and ground services providers in the kingdom.
The portal helps users to book accommodation in the kingdom, flights to and from Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
In August, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that the kingdom will allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah.
Recently, Saudi Arabia announced that a male guardian, or mahram, is no longer required to accompany female pilgrims from any part of the world travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.