Over 95,000 illegal pilgrims turned back


Saudi Gazette report

MAKKAH – As many as 95,400 domestic pilgrims without a Haj permit have so far been sent back from various entry points of Makkah and other holy sites, according to Gen. Khaled Al-Harbi, commander of the Haj Security Forces. He said a total of 47,700 vehicles carrying illegal pilgrims have been turned back during the period between July 19 and Aug. 12.

Gen. Al-Harbi said that the

Security forces, he said, are keeping utmost vigil and are geared up to ensure a safe and secure Haj in all respects. He warned that the security forces will deal sternly with all those who attempt to enter the holy city without a Haj permit or those transporting illegal pilgrims, and that such violators will be handed over to the concerned authorities for penal actions. “The security forces will penalize the violators who have already entered the holy sites through deploying inspection squads with random fingerprinting mechanism apart from the precautionary measures at the entry points of Makkah and the holy sites as well as on the desert roads leading to the holy sites. Aerial surveillance to catch the violators will also be intensified,” he said.

Gen. Al-Harbi called on citizens and expatriates to cooperate with security forces in creating an appropriate environment for hassle-free pilgrimage.

As of Sunday, a total of 675,143 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom. According to a statement of the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat), of these 663,860 pilgrims arrived by air; 10,796 by land; and 487 by sea, and that this figure marks an increase by 17% (98,387) pilgrims compared with the same period last year. These include 480,592 pilgrims who arrived in Madinah. The daily report, being published by the National Guides Establishment, said 276,750 pilgrims have left Madinah for Makkah, while 203,806 pilgrims are still remaining in the Prophet’s city.

All mataf levels to be open during the Haj

All the mataf (circumambulation area in Grand Mosque) levels will be open for pilgrims during this year's Haj, according to Faisal Wafa, chairman of the technical committee in charge of the expansion of the mataf.

"This will provide pilgrims with enough space to do their tawaf ritual comfortably," he said.

The committee will be deploying more than 200 engineers to supervise the smooth work of the mataf during the entire Haj season.

Wafa said the expanded mataf area will accommodate more than 105,000 pilgrims per hour.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Haj and Umrah is planning to add about 3,000 new seats within its program of the "low cost Haj" for the domestic pilgrims.

The ministry said registration for the the low cost Haj can be done electronically through its e-portal especially after all the seats for this type of pilgrimage have already been booked.

Though the cost will be extremely low compared to other categories of the Haj which can go up to more than SR14,000, yet it will cover all the expenses including accommodation, transport and sustenance.