Masjid al Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
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Mentally and Physically Prepare for Umrah

Can a Woman go to Umrah without a Mahram in Islam?

Women going to Umrah solo is a matter of different opinion among the Islamic community. According to Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, a woman can go to Hajj and Umrah alone if the road is safe. In 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah issued a new ruling that allows women to perform Umrah without a Mahram. Saudi Arabia was probably the safest place I’ve ever been to, and I found men to be very respectful in communication. If you’re looking for a sign to perform umrah solo, this is it!

Tourist and Umrah Visas

Visa requirements vary by passport but if you are an American citizen, you may choose between a multiple entry tourist visa, umrah visa, or transit visa. The Umrah E-visa ($132) is valid for a year and allows for stays up to 90 days.  The multiple entry tourist visa is ideal if you plan on exploring Saudi Arabia for longer than two weeks or plan on doing Umrah multiple times.  The Transit Visa ($Free.99) is easily attained if flying with Saudi Airlines. I strongly recommend using their stopover program to stay 2-4 days in Saudi Arabia which allows you to do Umrah (you must still apply for an Umrah visa during or after you purchase). 

Saudi Arabia does not play about visas. You need your visa to book an Umrah appointment, buy a SIM card, and check into a hotel so do not skip this part. You should usually hear back about your visa approval within 24 hours but it can take up to 5 days so try to do this in advance. Make sure to make an appointment for Umrah by the Nusak App. Sometimes they don’t enforce the Umrah appointment schedule but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Plan your itinerary for Umrah

If you’re flying more than 10 hours to get to Saudi Arabia you might as well use this time to explore multiple cities. I recommend visiting Jeddah, Madinah, Mecca, Taif, and al Ula if you have more than 10 days. If you only have enough time for Umrah then I recommend Mecca, Madinah, and possibly Jeddah.Map of Saudi Arabia

Umrah is a bit tiring so I recommend saving Mecca for last. Jeddah – Madinah – Mecca would be an ideal journey. The nearest airport to Mecca is Jeddah but Madinah also has an international airport.

Read here for the main attractions in each city.


Getting into a state of Ihram for Women

Before beginning Umrah or Hajj, we are required to get into the state of Ihram. It’s a state of purity that we must get into before crossing certain boundaries. This is why men heading to Hajj usually wear their Ihram on the plane. Men have specific dress code while women do not.

Ihram for women include:

    • not wearing perfume or scented lotions

    • no makeup or flashy jewelry

    • no cursing, backbiting, or sexual relations

    • conservative dress

    • not being on your period

Most women wear black or white abayas. After completing the tawaf and sa’ee, women are required to cut off about a finger tip length amount of hair.

How long is Umrah?

Completing all the rituals of Umrah takes a few hours. Most people also visit Madinah after Makkah. I think spending at least a week in Saudi Arabia would give you the opportunity to see some of the highlights, although two weeks would be even better.

Can you do Umrah on your period?

No, you cannot perform all of the rituals of Umrah while on your period. Menstruating women can enter the state of Ihram, but they cannot enter the masjid or perform Tawaf or Sa’y. But I’m no scholar and advise contacting your local imam. Planning ahead will save you a lot of headaches. Some medications will ensure that you don’t get your period while doing Umrah. If you have any doubt, I would take the medicine.

Transportation in Saudi Arabia

How to Go From Jeddah to Makkah 

The easiest way to go from Jeddah to Makkah is by Uber or Careem. Ordering a taxi in advance is not necessary unless traveling during a busy season. You can also find freelance taxis once you land but I recommend sticking to the apps. You can also travel via train but it may be tiring after a long day of traveling.


How to Go From Makkah to Madinah

There are lots of public transportation options in Saudi Arabia. The easiest way to get from Madinah to Makkah is by the Haramain High Speed Railway. By train, it’s 2.5 hours on a clean and comfortable train. By road, the distance between Madinah and Makkah is about 6.5 hours. Business class is about $30 dollars more than economy ($17). It includes access to the Business lounge, an onboard meal, and drink. We were welcomed onboard with a date and Saudi coffee. The lunch was decent. It wasn’t super luxurious by any means. On the Haramain train, travelers are allowed 1 luggage piece each. The luggage policy id strictly enforced. If your luggage is considered oversized or if you have additional pieces you will have to go the counter and pay for your luggage to be shipped to your train destination. I was quoted $60 dollars for my oversized luggage and it was expected to reach Madinah at midnight. Plan accordingly. I would recommend sticking to one carry-on size luggage, one large purse/book bag, and a foldable duffle bag for gifts.

In major cities like Jeddah, Madinah, and Makkah you can use Uber or Careem. You can also use local taxi drivers but most do not speak fluent English. Make sure to agree on a price before you get into the Uber. I noticed that some agree to a price but then say they don’t have change or beg for you to pay a small extra amount. Also note that Ubers are not able to pick up passengers close to the Kaaba so when leaving you will have to walk a few blocks or take a local taxi.

In Jeddah and Madinah, Uber is your best bet.

Umrah Clothing

Niqab is quite popular throughout Saudi Arabia. In some places, like the airport or train station, most women wore niqabs. Almost 98% of women wear black abayas. I also saw a few colorful abayas, but it wasn’t the norm. I would pack at least 5 abayas and buy more in Madinah or Jeddah. Pack lightweight, breathable clothes to wear under your abaya. Comfortable shoes is a must. I suggest Tevas Hurricane Drift. It feels like walking on a cloud. A good hat is useful, although I tried to rest during the day and explored after Maghrib due to the heat. Here’s a guide on what to wear in Saudi Arabia outside of Madinah and Makkah . 

Hotel Recommendations for Every Budget

For the Luxury Traveler

Black woman in floral prayer dress eating Arab chicken and rice in her hotel room with a view of the Kaba

Swissotel Makkah Review

Rate: Starts at $249/ night

Food: 5/5 

The breakfast was phenomenal! There were lots of local dishes, fruit, and healthy options. They even had non-dairy yogurt. Everything was very clean, and fresh hot food was constantly being brought out. Truly, the chefs gave us a 5-star experience.  

Distance from the Haram: 5 minutes. You can literally take the elevator down to the mall, and from there, it’s a 2-minute walk to the Haram. I don’t think it gets more convenient than that. 

Customer Service: 4.5/5 The customer service from the front desk, busboys, and room cleaners was amazing.

For the Budget Traveler

photo of the hotel at night

Al Ebaa Hotel Review

Rate: Starts at $74/ night

Food: Breakfast is available for an additional charge. Lots of choices! 

Distance from the Haram: 10-12 minute walk

Umrah Rewards

Umrah is full of rewards and benefits. Try to pray in the congregation when possible. Do dhikr daily. Give sadaqah daily.  Seek forgiveness and commit to breaking bad habits. Don’t forget to pray for yourself, your family, and the entire ummah. Don’t be shy with your prayers, you’re visiting the house of Allah! May Allah accept your Umrah and be pleased with you 🙂 

Umrah, an opportunity to seek blessings for ourselves and our loved ones

Meeka in front of the Kaba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

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