of visitors have been granted one-year residence visas by the Abu
Dhabi Naturalization and Residence Department to enable them to go to
Saudi Arabia for the Haj (pilgrimage).
The visas were granted so that the visitors could perform the Haj
alongside immediate relatives who are long-time UAE residents.
Recently, the Saudi authorities stopped issuing Haj or Umra (lesser
pilgrimage) visas to those applying in the UAE unless they had
residence permits. This forced hundreds of families to abandon their
In previous years it was common for UAE residents to invite their
relatives abroad to join them here and then go together to perform the
Haj or Umra. UAE officials issued the visitors a double visit visa to
allow them to return here with their relatives and then continue on
The Saudi Embassy issued pilgrimage visas based on the double visa.
But this year the Saudis said they would issue visas here only to UAE
residents. Consequently, officials last week decided to issue
residence visas valid for one year.
Hundreds of applications were processed last Wednesday and Saturday.
But following a disturbance on Saturday caused by the surging crowds,
the visas were quickly halted. Mazoub Khan, who has invited his elder
sister to join him for the Haj, said, "I reached the department
after Fajr prayers because I knew there would be a big crowd and
managed to submit the passport before a fight started.
"It was disgusting and shameful for people not to have a little
patience. Things were going quite well, and all the officers, both
senior and junior, were extending their full support and putting all
their efforts into processing as many applications as possible."
Source: Gulf News