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World Cup Visa Offers Low-Income Muslims Umrah Chance

In Islam, pilgrimage isn’t just an act of worship. It is an invitation from God himself.  

Allah Says in the Qur’an, “And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj).” (22:27)

For Mohammed Abdullah, a 29-year-old Algerian Muslim from Sidi Bel Abbès, the dream of making Umrah had been a far-fetched one due to high costs, until lately.

📚 Read Also:  Mesmerizing Description of Hajj by a Jewish Convert to Islam

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar provided him with an unexpected opportunity.

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So he didn’t hesitate when he heard that Saudi Arabia was allowing a free entry to holders of Qatar Hayya card, the photo-identity document given to fans attending the 2022 World Cup. 

“My target was to get to Saudi Arabia from Qatar and perform Umrah,” he told TRT World.

“I set my goal from the day I first read that Saudi Arabia was offering free Umrah pilgrimage visas to holders of the Hayya card.”

Although Abdullah bought Qatar 2022 World Cup tickets, he skipped the sporting event and instead made a detour to Makkah. 

Abdullah says he “didn’t hesitate even if I was short on my budget. I just wanted to get to Qatar to start my journey” for Umrah, the year-round pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah. 

While an Umrah pilgrimage agency in Algeria could cost a minimum of $1,000, excluding food and other expenses, the total estimated cost for Abdullah was about $500 with a Hayya card.

World Cup Visa Offers Low-Income Muslims Umrah Chance - About Islam

Unique Journey

He arrived in Doha on December 1, stayed for one night at a friend’s house, and embarked on his journey the next morning.

He hitch-hiked on the Salwa Road, from the Qatar-Saudi border, to al Hofuf in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, a distance of about 590 km.

“I then took a bus to Makkah from al Hofuf. I was still not tired and determined as ever to see the sight of Kaa`bah [Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the holy Muslim city of Makkah],” he said over the phone during a break in his journey. 

Eight hours later, Abdullah found himself in Makkah.

“The journey was not easy on a tight budget, but the result was amazing.” 

Ahashanuzzaman Shujan, a Bangladeshi national, also performed Umrah during his stay in Qatar for the World Cup.

“I bought two tickets for football matches on November 28 and December 2. So I had a three-day gap in between to travel to Saudi Arabia [by air] and perform Umrah,” he said. 

📚 Read Also: Stories on Tawakkul – Letting Allah Take Hold

Low-Budget Journey

While it costs up to $2,400 to perform Umrah from Bangladesh, according to Shujan. But he paid only $150 for the pilgrimage, excluding the airfare from Doha to Jeddah, which was approximately $200.

It “It has been an unforgettable journey. I got to witness the World Cup, watch the best matches and hop on from one middle eastern country to another,” Shujan said.

“But performing Umrah so easily and budget-friendly tops it all. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

Saudi Arabia authority said Muslim holders of fan tickets (Hayya card) of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, are allowed to perform Umrah and visit Madinah

A Hayya card (fan ID) is a personalized document that is issued and required by every single person attending any of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches.

It is valid for entering the kingdom and other GCC countries from November 11 until December 18.