| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Saudi Arabia says ready to serve over 2 million hajj pilgrims

Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday its readiness to serve over two million Hajj pilgrims from some 160 countries.

Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah stressed that all sectors involved in organizing the Hajj are ready for the pilgrimage and pilgrims.

During a press conference, he underlined Saudi Arabia’s commitment, in line with Vision 2030, to elevate the services at the Hajj and facilitate the journey of the pilgrims so that they can perform the rituals smoothly and with ease.

He also said the Kingdom has overcome all the challenges it faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and has distinguished itself by organizing exceptional Hajj seasons, despite the pandemic and its global impact. It is hosting pre-pandemic levels of pilgrims this year.

He expressed his gratitude to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, for instructions to increase the number of pilgrims to pre-pandemic levels.

The directives were based on a thorough review of health indicators and the recommendations of health authorities, he added.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in cooperation with all relevant government and private agencies, began preparations for Hajj 2023 several months ago. The ministry has been working to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims, in accordance with the directives of the Saudi leadership.

The ministry has allowed pilgrims to apply for the Hajj throughout the year, without any age restrictions, in order to accommodate as many Muslims as possible, continued Al-Rabiah.

The minister confirmed that the Kingdom is continuously working to make it easier for pilgrims to perform the Hajj rituals through an integrated electronic system, from electronic booking and selection of desired service packages to obtaining a Hajj visa.

Moreover, the ministry launched the “Nusuk Hajj” platform in seven different languages to allow pilgrims from across the globe to apply directly for Hajj 2023, he went on to say.

Pilgrims can select the desired packages and services from the platform, which offers an integrated experience for performing the Hajj. These services include flights, accommodation, transportation, catering, a pilgrim guide, several payment services, technical support, and the Hajj smart card, which serves as a personal ID for each pilgrim.

The ministry continues to develop appropriate technologies to effectively help in the organization and facilitation of many services.

Furthermore, Al-Rabiah underlined Saudi Arabia’s excellent crowd-management capabilities, which are based on a streamlined system that integrates infrastructure, crowd density measurement techniques, and security plans. This allows all pilgrims to perform their rituals in peace.

He announced the Kingdom’s intention to digitize all Hajj procedures in the coming years to cover the whole Hajj process, from the pilgrims’ arrival to their departure. The currently utilized Hajj Smart Card, which contains all of the pilgrim’s information, has made it easier to provide essential medical and logistical services to pilgrims while they are in the Kingdom.

To provide the best services and facilities to pilgrims, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has increased the number of personnel on duty during the Hajj season. This was done in light of the ministry’s commitment to keeping up with the changes in this year’s season, particularly with the expected return of pilgrim numbers to their pre-pandemic levels.

Regarding the preparations for the transportation of pilgrims, Al-Rabiah emphasized that the ministry conducted a successful series of trial runs before the start of the Hajj. To date, 18,277 buses have been approved for the transportation of pilgrims.

Al-Rabiah revealed that the ministry has kicked off preparations to receive Umrah performers immediately after the end of the Hajj.

Would-be pilgrims should visit the Nusuk platform to apply. Available in nine languages, the platform will help to facilitate the electronic issuance of visas in less than 24 hours, as well as the procedures for visiting Makkah and Madinah. It will also allow visitors to choose their preferred accommodation, transportation, and other services.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat