Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar said that this Haj season will witness the last reduction in the number of pilgrims following completion of expansion work inside the Grand Mosque.
“Starting from next Haj season, the number of pilgrims will increase to 5 million and then to 30 million in the coming five years,” the minister was quoted as saying to a local publication.
He said all efforts were made to make this year’s Haj outstanding and distinguished compared to previous seasons.
“Such efforts include the establishment and operation of a unified electronic system for pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom through which all tasks and functions linked with arrival procedures are executed and documented, such as the contracts and packages of services offered, transport and accommodation, in addition to the names of the pilgrims,” he explained.
He said the Haj Ministry coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to grant or issue Haj visas for any person only through the unified electronic system.
“As for internal pilgrims, the ministry also established an electronic system which allows citizens and residents to file applications requesting permits … through the Haj service provider of his choice, and to select the service segments he wants and pay electronically the value of the services provided.”
He said the process of GCC citizens was through the web portal of the Haj Ministry. “The process realized significant success in controlling their numbers,” he added.
“The application of the electronic path achieved a number of goals for the best interests of worshippers … mainly to control prices of the services offered to enable pilgrims to perform the rituals in the most favorable environment and services, maintaining their rights and the rights of service providers as well,” added the minister.
On the coronavirus issue, the minister said the safety of the guests of God, and ensuring they perform the holy rituals and return to their countries safe and free of any health problems are the top priorities of the leadership of the Kingdom.
“In this regard, the king and the crown prince directed all the parties involved in the Haj operation to provide the best health services and medical care for all pilgrims and visitors. Such a task requires the cooperation and coordination of the relevant bodies, but the biggest burden lies on the shoulders of the Health Ministry which has always harnessed all efforts and capabilities to enforce these royal directives … so that pilgrims can perform the holy rituals with their minds at peace,” said the minister.
He said the Ministry of Health has taken extensive measures to make sure all pilgrims leave the Kingdom free of any possible infection with the virus. In this regard, he added the control and command center at the Ministry of Health extensively follows up on all measures and continues monitoring for any epidemics, ensuring all procedures to combat infection are in place. SAUDI GAZETTE