Haj: Fewer numbers ‘in pilgrims’ interest’

JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Sunday 23 June 2013

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, yesterday emphasized the need for reducing foreign and domestic pilgrims as a result of expansion work at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. “It was an essential choice,” the prince said.

“The main objective of the expansion project is to improve the quality of service being extended to the guests of God,” the governor said, adding that the decision to reduce foreign pilgrims by 20 percent and domestic pilgrims by 50 was taken to protect the honor and safety of the guests of God.

The governor hoped that Muslims all over the world would understand the situation and cooperate with the Saudi government. “Extending the best possible services to pilgrims is one of the government’s priorities,” Prince Khaled said after inspecting arrangements to distribute iqamas to the Burmese.

He said more than 115,000 Burmese have been given iqamas during the past 14 weeks. “This will allow Burmese to get various jobs and participate in the Kingdom’s development,” he added.

Sheikh Sudais said the ongoing expansion work at the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) would reduce its capacity from 48,000 to 22,000 faithful per hour. “The decision to cut the number of pilgrims is a temporary one and was taken in public interest,” he said.

He advised Muslims all over the world not to repeat Haj and Umrah until the expansion is completed.

A portion of the mataf at the Grand Mosque in Makkah is shown under construction.

Categories: Arab World, Asia, Saudi Arabia

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