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Saudi Arabia agrees to abolish tax on Umrah, Senate body told

ISLAMABAD: Saudi government has agreed to abolish the tax on Umrah after Prime Minister Imran Khan took up the matter with Saudi crown prince during his recent visit of the kingdom Secretary Religious Affairs Ministry told Senate Standing Committee.

He informed the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs on Tuesday that Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud to waive 2,000 riyals tax imposed by the Saudi government on Pakistan nationals performing Umrah every year.

The committee, chaired by Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, was briefed about the problems faced by Pakistanis while performing Hajj and Umrah.

Chairman of the committee said he had received complaints about the Saudi government imposing a tax of 2,000 riyals on pilgrims performing more than one Umrah within two years.

Senator Haideri said that, he has been informed that this was some kind of a discriminatory tax on Pakistanis and the government should do something about it.

Secretary Religious Affairs Muhammad Mushtaq said that the reason behind the Saudi move was to discourage repeated Umrah by a few people only and the tax had not been levied on Pakistanis alone but it had recently been imposed on anyone coming from any country of the world.

“However this new tax of 2,000 riyals on people performing more than one Umrah within two years has been abolished for Egypt and Turkey after requests made by governments of these countries to the Saudi government,” the secretary said.

He said the matter had taken up with the Saudi authorities in Islamabad and it was suggested that Prime Minister Imran Khan should make the request to the Saudi crown prince for the tax waiver.

Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent Saudi visit took up the matter with the Saudi crown prince and he has agreed to abolish the tax,” the secretary said, adding that the Saudi government would notify the waiver for Pakistani citizens soon.

The committee was informed about Haj operations 2018 and was told that the ministry of religious affairs would start preparations for Haj operations 2019 in January.

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