I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for granting Brunei Darussalam citizens tourist visas which allow pilgrims to perform Umrah.
Citizens from 49 countries are eligible for online e-visas or visas on arrival, including Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Malaysia, China, the United States and several European countries.
Judging from this move, Umrah packages offered by travel agencies should be cheaper and not be around what is quoted for two weeks of travel.
The cost of visas and health insurance would be cheaper when booking online individually. As an avid traveller, I foresee some travel agents are aware of such a trend and are willing to reduce price of the Umrah package while others are reluctant to do so.
If one were to book an Umrah trip without travel agents via online, including hotel accommodations and ground handling, the cost would not be as high.
On another note, I would like to call on the relevant agencies to look at hiring unemployed locals, especially those from local Islamic universities such as Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), to be Umrah guides rather than hiring foreign nationals while in Makkah and Madinah.