Number of Qatari pilgrims this year more: Khaled Al-Faisal

August 30, 2017

MINA — Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah province, adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and chairman of the Central Haj Committee, said that the number of pilgrims who have arrived from outside the Kingdom totaled 1,752,014, with an increase of 426,263 compared to last year, Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday.

He said that the number of Qatari pilgrims reached 1,564 this year, compared to 1,210 last year.

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal arrived in Mina earlier Wednesday to follow up on the services being provided to the pilgrims.

Prince Khaled announced that the Kingdom has recruited more than 300,000 civil and military personnel to serve the pilgrims this year and secure their spiritual journey.

In a press conference he held at the Makkah governorate headquarters in Mina, he expressed thanks and appreciation to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his care and continuous instructions to provide the best services to the Guests of Allah. He expressed thanks to Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, for his directives on all matters concerning Haj. He also expressed gratitude to Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif, minister of interior, who is also Chairman of Supreme Haj Committee, for his continuous follow-up of all steps regarding Haj.

Prince Khaled said that as many as 101 illegal Haj organizers were apprehended by the authorities, 490,785 violators of Haj regulations were prevented from entering Makkah and other holy places, 219,890 unlicensed vehicles were turned back, and 9,599 transporters were registered as violators of the Haj regulations.

He announced that the number of pilgrims has exceeded two million both from within the Kingdom and outside, with those coming from abroad totaling 1,752,014. Domestic pilgrims holding Haj permits amounted to 126,092 citizens and 102,936 expatriates. He added that 1,564 pilgrims arrived from Qatar for this year's Haj compared to 1,210 last year.

Prince Khaled also announced that Al-Mashaer Train is now ready and is expected to transport 365,000 pilgrims. This is in addition to more than 21,000 buses to transport over two million pilgrims.

He said that Makkah Province Development Authority has completed 14 projects worth SR300 million. These projects will contribute to facilitating the Haj rites for pilgrims.

In response to a question on the criticism launched by some media outlets against the Kingdom, calling for politicization of Haj, Prince Khaled refuted such calls, saying that the best reply to whoever belittles the Kingdom's efforts in serving pilgrims is what is being seen now by the whole world as unprecedented services being provided to the Guests of Allah.

“All we seek is reward from Allah Almighty,” he said, adding: “We are proud that some are envious about the services being provided to the Guests of Allah. This is the best evidence that if we say something we deliver.”

Asked to comment on hosting of Qatari pilgrims by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, he said that the Royal attitude is not strange as the brothers from Qatar are Guests of Allah and it is our duty to serve them.

Prince Khaled called on all pilgrims to devote their time to worship, as this is the main goal of their journey to the holy places. He added that all will be at their service so as to facilitate their spiritual journey.

He disclosed that the Ministry of Haj and Umrah is putting the final touches to a project to develop the holy sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat, which has been approved by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

He also disclosed that the establishment of a Haj and Umrah University is under study by the Governorate of Makkah along with the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques.

Prince Khaled said that the Ministry of Health has mobilized 30,000 doctors and health practitioners to provide their services to the pilgrims. It has provided 5,000 beds in Makkah and the holy sites, 550 Intensive Care rooms and readied 135 health centers and 17 hospitals to provide health services to the pilgrims.

The Health Ministry has also readied 100 field medical teams in the holy sites, which will provide pilgrims with up-to-date medical services. Over 400 pilgrims, suffering from health issues preventing them from completing their Haj, will be able to perform their Haj rites with the help of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Medical Caravan, he said.

Prince Khaled said the Ministry of Finance has set up shelter centers in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah that can accommodate over 51,000 people. They will be used in emergency cases and accidents, God forbid.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has mobilized over 23,000 people to keep Makkah and the holy sites clean during the Haj period. The National Water Company (NWC) will pump over 18 million cubic meters of water during the Haj season, with an increase of 21 percent compared to last year.

He said the value of projects carried out by the Saudi Electricity Company in preparation for Haj in Makkah and the holy sites has reached SR454 million. The maximum loads in Makkah and the holy sites during this Haj season are expected to reach 4570 Megawatts.

Prince Khaled said the Suqya and Rifada Committee in Makkah governorate will oversee the distribution of 22 million meals and chilled water packs during this year’s Haj season.

He thanked all, especially the security men, who he said are exerting distinctive efforts, which every Saudi citizen is proud of. He also expressed pride about Makkah and its residents for their voluntary work. He added that the number of volunteers will increase and there are opportunities for all to serve the pilgrims. — SPA

August 30, 2017
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