JEDDAH: NADIM AL-HAMID ARABNEWS
Published — Wednesday 21 August 2013
The first wave of Haj pilgrims are expected to arrive to the Kingdom beginning next week.
This year 10,000 Syrians are expected to perform Haj, according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the head of the Syrian Pilgrim Mission, Ahmed Al Jarba, said Hatim Al Qadi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Haj.
The spokesman added that Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar is currently inspecting headquarters of Tawafa institutions in Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah to ensure their preparedness to receive and provide adequate services to pilgrims. The minister of Haj met on Tuesday the boards of the Southeast Asian pilgrim foundations, which serve pilgrims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and China, to discuss with them operational plans for receiving pilgrims.
Hajjar also met with the board of directors of Arab foundations and was briefed about the preparedness of these organizations as well.
The spokesman pointed out that the last group of visiting pilgrims currently in Makkah and Madinah number around 50,000 people, out of the total of 5.2 million visitors who came to perform Umrah last February.
The process of departure for the visitors will continue until the 15th of Shawwal, he added. Operational plans for the Haj Ministry branches in Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah, have recently been approved, said Al Qadi, stressing the importance of the duties of the committees and the monitoring and surveillance teams in ensuring the availability of the necessary equipment before the arrival of pilgrim envoys to the two holy cities.
He also stressed the importance of monitoring licensed pilgrim housing accommodations to ensure that they are clean and ready to host pilgrims.
Al Qadi said that the Islamic countries displayed their understanding regarding the Kingdom’s decision to reduce the number of international pilgrims by 20 percent this year due to the expansion projects taking place in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
He noted that Islamic states appreciate the Kingdom’s efforts and understand the risks of overcrowding as the pilgrims in mataf are temporarily confined to single level and a temporary level constructed for the physically disabled due to the ongoing expansion work.
Al Qadi revealed that advanced technology would be used in monitoring the large number of pilgrims and transmitting information between officials.
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