JEDDAH — The quota cuts in the number of the domestic and the foreign Haj pilgrims will continue until the expansion projects of the Two Holy Mosques have been completed, Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar has said.
“This is an exceptional and a temporary measure aimed at preserving the safety and comfort of the guests of God,” he said.
Hajjar recalled that the Haj quotas were decided by the Islamic foreign ministers in Amman in 1987.
He said the ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) decided the quotas of pilgrims to be 1,000 pilgrims for each 1 million population of Muslims.
“The ministers took into consideration the ongoing development projects and the limited area of the Holy Sites,” he explained.
Hajjar said the Kingdom every year receives pilgrims from about 180 countries who speak more than 200 various languages.
“The pilgrims, who are mostly old, have different cultural, social and sectarian backgrounds,” he said.
Hajjar said these pilgrims move in a limited area with difficult terrain under hot weather, which requires thorough organization and management.
The minister said he recently began his routine meetings with 53 Haj affairs offices to discuss the affairs of their pilgrims with a view to ensuring them with excellent services.
“The meetings will continue for the next three months and will cover all issues pertaining to the Haj,” he added.
Hajjar asked all Islamic countries and Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries to enlighten their pilgrims about the correct methods of doing the Haj before they start their religious journey.
“The countries and the communities should also enlighten their pilgrims on the heath, security, behavioral and environment issues,” he said.
The minister asked the offices to honor the grouping of pilgrims from the time of their arrival at the airports or seaports until they reach their places of accommodation in Makkah or Madinah.
He said the schedule of grouping the pilgrims moving to Mina or Arafat should be strictly observed for their safety and convenience.
Hajjar also asked the offices to enlighten their pilgrims against politicizing the pilgrimage, tampering with the Kingdom’s security or stirring sectarian differences.