Reduced pilgrim quota to stay until next year

Updated 16 July 2014
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Reduced pilgrim quota to stay until next year

Hatem Al-Qadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Haj said his ministry has decided to keep in place the reduction in the numbers of domestic and international pilgrims by 50 percent and 20 percent respectively.
He explained that the decision will continue to take effect owing to the huge expansion projects still under way in the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
“The decision was issued during the last meeting of the Ministry of Haj and aims to maintain the health and safety of pilgrims,” said Al-Qadi, adding that the ministry uses the data available to serve visitors and worshippers and make their journey enjoyable and memorable.
Al-Qadi confirmed that the number of pilgrims this year will be the same as in the last Haj season. “Last year, there were a total of 1,980, 249 pilgrims of which 1,379, 531 were from outside the Kingdom and 600,718 were domestic pilgrims,” he said.
He stressed that Saudi citizens and residents should adhere to the ministry’s decision of performing Haj once in five years.
He noted that the new expansions of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque are the largest in the history of the city. Such expansions will result in accommodating 2.2 million worshippers in the Grand Mosque, and will double the current capacity of the Mataf from 48 thousand worshippers an hour to more than 105 thousand.
“The expansions will also increase the capacity of the courtyards surrounding the Grand Mosque, and lessen the urban congestions around the area to the north, the west and northeast,” said Al-Qadi. Senior officials at the Ministry of Haj highlighted the royal decision to reduce the numbers of pilgrims in view of the capacity of the Mataf area during the expansion works.


Saudi Commission for Tourism completes training for Hajj guides

Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah on August 15, 2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Saudi Commission for Tourism completes training for Hajj guides

  • A license takes any traditional work to a professional level, and hosting pilgrims must be included in this initiative, as part of Vision 2030
  • We must look at tourism as an industry through which we present our vision, our goals and our ambitions

MAKKH: In a breakthrough initiative for Tawafa institutions, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has completed the training of 135 male and female Tawafa guides — religious guides for Hajj pilgrims — who have obtained tour guide licenses.
The training is the first step in a program that will enable national Tawafa establishments to obtain tour guide licenses. The ceremony for the first of the tour guides to graduate from the training course took place in Makkah on Tuesday, at the National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Arab Countries (ARBHAJ).
SCTH Director-General Dr. Hisham bin Mohammed Madani said the commission has honored more than 135 male and female “Mutawwifs,” or guides, from ARBHAJ under the partnership between the SCTH and the ARBHAJ to train Tawafa guides to obtain tour guide licenses.
Madani said this is the first phase of an initiative to train guides at all Tawafa establishments, introducing pilgrims to a new concept by helping them visit all historical and archaeological sites and museums in Makkah after performing Hajj rituals.
“Tour guides are more and more dynamic and effective in the tourism industry, and have become an important and effective source of historical information,” he said and added that the tour guide now also functions as an ambassador for the authentic culture of the Kingdom, reflecting its cultural, natural and historical heritage.
Licensing Tawaf guides as tour guides, Madani said, will enrich the tourist experience in the holy capital.
The SCTH chief noted that the city is rich with myriad cultural treasures that need someone to showcase them for tourists.
“We at SCTH presented our experience in qualifying accredited tour guides and we look forward to improving tourism outputs to match the reality and requirements of the new phase,” he said. “In order to reach this goal, we are collaborating with all partners to reach satisfactory results to deal with all nationalities, tongues and cultural backgrounds from all parts of the world with satisfaction, love and positivity.”
“We must look at tourism as an industry through which we present our vision, our goals and our ambitions. Makkah is the holy city that every Muslim looks forward to visiting after hearing about its great heritage. Our role is to provide knowledge and keep abreast of the tourist vision by qualifying and training tour guides, equipping them with the necessary skills and qualifications and honing their skills through required training programs. To this end, all partners must join their efforts and collaborate together to reach the desired goals.”

Initiative
Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that the ministry is implementing an initiative to provide a professional license for everyone working at Hajj, not just in Tawaf.
He said: “A license takes any traditional work to a professional level, and hosting pilgrims must be included in this initiative, as part of Vision 2030, to focus on enriching the pilgrims’ experience, and not only on increasing their numbers.”
Mashat said it was important for pilgrims’ journeys to be coupled with trips to historical and archaeological sites. “We rely on male and female Tawaf guides to organize well-thought-out trips for the pilgrims so that they can enjoy all the historical and archaeological sites and landmarks in Makkah,” he added.