Saudi’s ban on Umrah pilgrims: 10,000 Bangladeshis in uncertainty
08:33 PM, February 27, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:49 PM, February 27, 2020

Saudi’s ban on Umrah pilgrims: 10,000 Bangladeshis in uncertainty

Around 10,000 Bangladeshis with Umrah visas remain uncertain about performing their pilgrimage as the Saudi government has imposed a temporary ban on foreigners' entry to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

No airlines took passengers who were scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia under umrah or tourism visas from Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong airports today, reports our staff correspondent quoting sources.

Authorities of the airlines said they received directives issued by the Saudi foreign ministry this morning to not carry these passengers until further notice.

"We are communicating with our passengers after receiving the directives. We request them to wait until further notice," said an official of Saudi Airlines. 

Some airlines even had the passengers disembark after they had already boarded Saudi-bound aircrafts at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, sources said.

Around 500 passengers were seen waiting for several hours at HSIA following the Saudi government's sudden decision.

President of Hajj Agency Association Bangladesh (HAAB) M Shahadat Hossain Taslim said nearly 1,000 Bangladeshis were stranded at the three airports in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.

He also said that half of them had Umrah visas, and had already bought tickets and arranged accommodation in Saudi Arabia.

The HAAB president said a total of Tk 40 to 50 crore was spent on the visas, tickets and accommodations abroad.

"I am not sure whether I will get back the money I spent, including for the ticket and accommodation, to perform Umrah," Hafizur Rahman, one of the pilgrimage aspirants said while talking to The Daily Star.

Meanwhile, Biman Bangladesh Airlines today in a press release said that the pilgrims who got tickets of the national carrier can get refunds or use their tickets following the lifting of the ban.

However, there was no ban on travel for work permit or employment visa holders to Saudi Arabia, the press release added.

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