The number of illegal pilgrims squatting in the plaza of the Prophet’s Mosque is causing problems of nightmare proportions and is beyond control of the ministry.
Muhammad Al-Baijawi, director of the Madinah branch of the Ministry of Haj was touring the area around the mosque in anticipation of a large influx of pilgrims to the mosque after the completion of Haj in Makkah.
Al-Baijawi said, “The huge number of illegal pilgrims is blocking service to foreign pilgrims. They occupy the courtyards of the mosque without any system or order.”
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, chairman of the Central Haj Committee, reported the number of illegal domestic pilgrims reached 1.4 million during Haj this year.
Al- Baijawi said more than 50,000 foreign pilgrims came on individual visas without any arrangements by Haj service companies. Haj regulations stipulate a foreign pilgrim can only come if a licensed Haj service company in the Kingdom provides their accommodations and service arrangements.
More than 32,510 licensed pilgrims arrived in Madinah and 750,000 pilgrims are expected to visit the Prophet’s Mosque over the next two weeks. To date, 1,017 pilgrims have returned to their countries from Madinah.
Egyptian pilgrims numbering 17,174 topped the list of pilgrims currently visiting the city, followed by 2,451 Turks and 2,242 Jordanians.
One attraction for pilgrims, licensed or illegal, who want to visit other religious sites in Madinah is the Uhad mountain illumination. At night the mountain which is closely associated with early Islamic history, appears to be covered in a blanket of snow. The authorities lifted the ban on visiting the mountain at nighttime. The illumination undertaken by the municipality starts from the King Abdullah intersection with Airport Road and continues eight kilometers up to the Prince Naif road. Powerful lamps decorated with colorful lanterns flood the mountain with light.