More pilgrims expected from Qatar: Haj Minister

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Saudi Gazette report

MADINAH —
A number of Qatari pilgrims have arrived in the holy cities and more will follow, Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Benten has said.

He did not reveal the exact number of the Qatari pilgrims or how they arrived in the Kingdom but said they would be provided with all the facilities and services that will enable them perform the pilgrimage in ease, peace and comfort.

"We are expecting more pilgrims from Qatar to arrive in the coming days," he told Al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday.

Benten has said Qatari citizens residing in the Kingdom may register for the Haj via the special e-portal established for them by the ministry.

"The pilgrims coming from Qatar may use any air company to arrive in Jeddah for the Haj and we will take good care of them," he said.

Qatar has prevented its citizens from traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Haj and has deleted the special electronic gate established by the Kingdom for them to register for the fifth pillar of Islam.

The ministry has prepared tents for them in Mina, which were supplied with all the facilities and equipment including air-conditioning.

The minister, who inspected the Haj facilities in Madinah including Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, said he was impressed by the warm welcome accorded to the pilgrims on arrival.

"Many of the pilgrims to whom I talked expressed their satisfaction over the services being extended to them by the concerned government and private establishments," he said.

The minister joined more than 400,000 pilgrims who performed the Friday prayer at the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.

Female staff at KAIA

As many as 75 Saudi women are working at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah to process the passports of the pilgrims.

The female passport staff were rigorously trained to detect any case of forgery and to complete the entry procedures of pilgrims in a matter of seconds only.

The Passport Department (Jawazat) started employing Saudi women at international airports as early as 2014. They will make the fingerprinting for the pilgrims, photograph them and enter all their data in the computer system.

The Jawazat, on the other hand, said as many as 1.22 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom until Friday evening from various parts of the world.

It said 1,148,404 pilgrims have arrived by air, 59,448 by land and13,211 by sea.

Commander of the Jawazat Haj forces Brig. Sulaiman Al-Youssif said so far no forgery cases were detected in any of the airports.

He said about a thousand passport officers, privates and supervisors are serving the pilgrims 24 hours a day and are communicating with the pilgrims in English, French, Russian and Urdu.

Youssif said the Jawazat has employed a number of interpreters to facilitate the entry of the pilgrims.

Fee for canceling Haj plan

The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has warned domestic pilgrims who cancel their Haj plans after registering with the local Haj companies that they will have to pay certain fees.

The ministry said the cancellation should be done before the Haj permit is printed. It said it will start receiving the cancellations of the domestic pilgrims from Sunday on its e-portal.

The ministry said if the cancellation was done after printing of the Haj permit, the pilgrim should log on to Absher to make sure that the cancellation was done and then log on to the e-portal to complete the cancellation procedures.

The cancellation will be free of charge if it was done before the Haj fees were paid.

According to the ministry, every domestic pilgrim who cancels his/her Haj plans after the permit has been printed will have to pay SR68.25 in cancellation fee, in addition to SR7.35 toward bank transfer charges.

If the cancellation was to the refusal of the Ministry of Interior to issue a Haj Permit, then SR26.25 will be deducted per pilgrim with the addition of SR7.35 as bank transfer fee.

However, for late cancellations after Dhul Hijja 1, the fee will go up with the pilgrim forfeiting the full amount of the contract value after Dhul Hijja 6. The fee will be 30 percent of the contract value on Dhul Hijja 2 and it will increase by 10 percent on each subsequent day.

Meanwhile, the domestic pilgrims companies and establishments have started preparing some 800 camps in Arafat.

The spokesman of the Coordination Council for Domestic Haj Companies Muhammad Al-Qurashi said the cost of these camps totals nearly SR50 million. He said the preparations in Mina and Arafat holy sites will be completed before Dhul Hijja 1, 1439H.


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