(MENAFN - Arab News) With Umrah season under way since the first of Safar 1434 H, many travel agencies are offering pilgrim packages at modest prices as low as SR 80 in the capital.
A return fare from Riyadh to Makkah by a luxury coach including accommodation in the holy city will cost SR 80 per pilgrim, with an additional charge of SR 40 for pilgrims choosing to visit the Prophet's mosque in Madinah en route to Makkah.
A mere addition of SR 100 will provide a pilgrim a four-star accommodation in the holy city.
According to a spokesman from Al-Rushd, a travel operator in the city, the weekend package to Makkah and Madinah starts at 4 p.m. from Riyadh on Wednesday and ends Friday midnight.
In addition these travel arrangements offer each family a large room, while bachelors are provided shared accommodations with three pilgrims sharing one room. Families with children under 12 years of age are required to pay half the fare amount.
Another travel agent said a five-day package to Makkah and Madinah including travel and accommodations expenses will cost a pilgrim SR150. The offer includes a two-day stay in a three-star hotel in Madinah and another two-day lodging in a similar rating hotel in Makkah. This five-day journey begins on Monday and ends on Friday, with pilgrims leaving Makkah after Friday prayers and reaching Riyadh around midnight. Pilgrims are given an option to choose a five star facility, with an additional payment charge.
There are nearly 200 Umrah travel operators spread across the capital, however they are largely concentrated in the city center area of Batha.
During the journey, coaches stop three times to allow pilgrims to pray Maghrib and Isha prayers and to wear their ihram clothing (the two pieces of white cloth that each male pilgrim must wear prior to performing Haj or Umrah) at the meeqat in Taif.
Two coaches carrying Sri Lankan pilgrims left for Makkah yesterday, organized by the Riyadh-based Muslim Council, charging SR 150 per pilgrim and offering two meals during the journey.
The Dawah centers in the city are also organizing Umrah packages free-of-charge to single Muslims in the capital. According to Moulavi Ramadan from the Rawdah Center, there will be weekly trips to Makkah for this segment of the society.
In addition, local hotels in Madinah in liaison with local tour operators have arranged sightseeing visits to historical sites for the benefit of pilgrims who come to Madinah. The guided tours will include a visit to the to the Prophet's mosque as well as other historically important sites such as the Quba mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in the world and was built by prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) during his emigration from Makkah to Madinah and the Qiblatain Mosque where the Qibla (the direction of prayer) was shifted from Al-Aqsa Mosque to the holy Kaaba.