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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Muslims urged to be careful as Saudi Arabia yet to issue furada visa


Packages offering haj pilgrimage using a furada visa are not cheap as some cost more than RM50,000 and one has to put a deposit of at least RM15,000, even though there is no guarantee of a haj visa being approved and issued.

These haj packages using furada visas often trap Muslims who have high hopes of performing the fifth pillar of Islam and every year, there are those who have to bear losses and even ended up stranded all day at the airport terminal.

Malaysian Haj Delegation head Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said until now, the Saudi Arabian government has not announced the issuance of furada visas for the 2022 haj season, and those who had already made payments needed to be extra vigilant.

Syed Saleh said the Lembaga Tabung Haji often reminded the public about the risk of performing haj on a furada visa, what’s more, by the scenario of the haj season this year which sees various conditions set by the Saudi Arabian government.

The Saudi Arabian government also limits only one million Muslims to performing haj, which is 85 percent involving pilgrims outside Saudi Arabia and another 15 percent specifically for those living in the country, but need to obtain a permit and subscribe to a package provided by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, Saudi Arabia.

Be careful of fake haji packages

“Saudi Arabia offers two packages to locals to perform the haj, with a price range of RM11,000 to RM14,000. Hence, I hope the public understands this situation, and also the Saudi Arabian government has stated that we must be careful because certain parties offer fake haj packages.

“This is happening at the international level and in Malaysia, we also find that there are agencies, not licensed and recognised by Tabung Haji, that offer packages called furada visas. I hope Muslims in Malaysia not be deceived by these advertisements,” he said.

Syed Saleh said this to reporters at the Abraj Al Janadriyah building, which houses the headquarters of Tabung Haji and Malaysian pilgrims.

A furada visa is a haj visa that is obtained by dealing directly with the Saudi Arabian Embassy and does not involve the haj quota allocated for Tabung Haji. It is normally issued at the last moment based on the slots available.

To curb fraudulent activities, Syed Saleh also reminded individuals or companies not to continue to offer such packages as it is an offence under the Tabung Haji Act, for advertising or conducting haj without a licence from Tabung Haji.

“Muslims should be extra careful, as they may end up being stranded. They will run into problems when they have already made payment for the package and end up not being able to go because the visa is either fake or unrecognised.

“We also learned that many have been deceived by such schemes and advertisements, so please be careful,” said Syed Saleh who advised Malaysians to choose 20 travel agencies that have been appointed by Tabung Haji as the Haj Pilgrimage Operators (PJH).

PJH companies provide various packages of RM35,000 and above and it is a quota that is obtained for Tabung Haji and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, based on Bernama’s check on social media, it was found that promotions related to furada visas were in full swing and the parties contacted promised that the pilgrims would leave on July 5.

The answer is somewhat dubious as Saudi Arabia has set that the last haj-related flights are on July 4, not to mention it is getting closer to Wukuf Day.

The company contacted through the WhatApps application also said that it is targeting 80 people with packages of RM38,000 to RM56,000 and asked for an advance payment of RM15,000 at an immediate rate, purportedly for visa matters at the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Despite asking for a deposit, the company representative insisted that the chance to go to the Holy Land is only 50-50, and in case of failure, the money will be returned without any time frame or the applicant can make a complaint to the authorities based on the receipt.

For those who have made payment for a furada visa, it is advisable to do further checks and as Syed Saleh said, there is a possibility that the payment made will be lost, just like that.

- Bernama

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