Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya speaks in Jeddah on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 17 August 2018

Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

  • The Ministry of Interior has been working hard every year to make Hajj successful and easy by using technology to facilitate Hajj permits
  • The number of pilgrims increases annually which is a good sign of a successful Hajj

JEDDAH: More than 1.68 million Hajj pilgrims had arrived in the Kingdom by noon on Thursday, the General Directorate of Passports announced.
Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya, director general of passports, told a press conference: “Up to this moment, our air, land and sea checkpoints have warmly received 1,684,629 pilgrims from different countries of the world.”
According to Al-Yahya, 1,584,085 pilgrims have arrived by air, 84,381 entered the country via land crossing points, and 16,163 came by sea.
“Under close supervision by the minister of interior, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, and a daily follow-up by the Makkah governor, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, we had an early plan to efficiently receive Hajj worshippers. For that reason, we have all qualified personnel and modern technology available for their service so that the arrival process is done in a short time as possible,” he said.
Al-Yahya said that well-trained staff members were present to prevent lawbreakers from entering the holy sites.
“The role of these workers is to take hold of law violators and impose penalties on them. They are working 24 hours a day. For example, a driver who illegally transports pilgrims into Makkah will be fined SR10,000 ($2,600) for every passenger he is caught transporting,” Al-Yahya said.
The violation would also bring a 15-day jail sentence.
“When the same violator commits the same felony, a SR25,000 fine will be imposed for every passenger he is carrying, in addition to two months in jail. Third-time offenders will spend six months in jail and will have to pay a fine of SR50,000,” he said.
He said that about 18 drivers have been detained following violations. Punishments will vary since some were caught using relatives’ cars.
Al-Yahya said a pilgrims’ departure plan was in place to assist worshippers in departing for their countries after their rituals have been completed.
Al-Yahya highlighted the contribution of women in the passports system during Hajj.
“We have 107 women officials working at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport. There are others in different locations, such as Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, where 58 female agents are working.”
Al-Yahya said that the directorate is using the latest technology to counter passport counterfeiting, a growing problem around the world.
He praised the Makkah Route project, saying pilgrims had been able to enter the Kingdom with minimal delay and without complications.
Pilgrims on this route took no more than 35 minutes to leave their flights and board buses for the holy city.
“Even on their way to Makkah, they don’t need to stop at checkpoints,” he said.

‘Makkah Road’ pilgrims
Thursday morning saw the arrival in Saudi Arabia of the final flights of this year’s “Makkah Road” initiative. The project, which was implemented this year, has seen 103,057 pilgrims arrive to perform Hajj on 240 flights from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to Jeddah and Madinah.
Al-Yahya said that the initiative has been a huge success, and represents just one of many projects that the Supreme Hajj Committee is developing under the direction of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif.

Pilgrims from all nationalities took part in Saudi National Day

Updated 7 min 46 sec ago

Pilgrims from all nationalities took part in Saudi National Day

  • A number of pilgrims from various nationalities participated in a national initiative, organized by the Hadiya Association, in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah
  • This is the first time that pilgrims, who have now finished their rituals and will leave on Sept. 25, have celebrated this special day with all of the people of Saudi Arabia

MAKKAH: Pilgrims from all nationalities took part in the celebrations to mark the 88th Saudi National Day, paying thanks to the Saudi government for the services provided to the two Holy Mosques.

After Saudi Arabia announced the success of this year’s Hajj season, the Umrah season kicked off. It also began to receive pilgrims from all nationalities, all of whom stressed that they cannot forget Saudi Arabia’s support in granting them their rights and helping them throughout their economic hardships.

“Every year I come to Saudi Arabia for Umrah. I am used to performing Umrah every year, but this year is special because it coincides with the National Saudi Day,” said Hamdi Abul-Enein, from Egypt, adding: “For the first time in my life I see the Saudi people celebrating their National Day, reflecting the cohesion between the citizens and their leadership. This is not surprising because we know the core of Saudi people are keen on the security and stability of the country.”

Hamdi added: “In Egypt, we share the joys of the Saudi people. For decades, there have been strong ties between Egyptians and our Saudi brothers. Sincere ties based on the Islamic religion joins us. Congratulations to Saudi Arabia and its citizens.”

Ali Al-Saradi, a pilgrim from Yemen, said: “I roamed the streets of Makkah and Medinah, and found people celebrating the national day. We admire the unity and loyalty of our Saudi brothers to their leadership. I am keen on sharing these celebrations with my Saudi brothers. In Yemen, we are happy for the Saudi citizens’ happiness. We consider them as our brothers and therefore we are happy for their joys and are sad for their sadness.”

Kuwaiti pilgrim, Abdullah Al-Ajami said: “This occasion is not only celebrated by the Saudi people, but also by all those who love this country. I can confirm that the rulers of this country are very generous and put all efforts to serve the two holy mosques. So it is no surprise to see so many nationalities celebrating the National Saudi Day.”

“The Saudi leadership and people stood with their Kuwaiti brothers during the brutal invasion; they opened their hearts before their homes. They were the first to work for the liberation of our country, and this is what strengthened the blood ties between us for decades. I ask God to perpetuate their joys,” he added.

The Hadiya Association involved pilgrims and visitors in celebrating the 88th National Day Festival.

A number of pilgrims from various nationalities participated in a national initiative, organized by the Hadiya Association, held during a reception and farewell for pilgrims, in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The Association distributed Saudi flags and gifts to the pilgrims. They received traditional Saudi hospitality and were given a presentation on the National Project, conducted in sign language in order to engage deaf people in the celebrations for the first time. The presentation, which was part of the Association’s project entitled “Nourishment of the Soul”, was conducted in 67 languages with the participation of both volunteers and multi-national students currently on scholarships in Saudi universities.

The Director General of the Association, Sheikh Mansoor Al Amer, expressed his joy seeing the pilgrims enthusiasm and willingness to engage in the celebrations for Saudi National Day, which commemorates the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and expresses appreciation of the services provided by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques during their spiritual journey in Makkah, Madinah, and Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah.

This is the first time that pilgrims, who have now finished their rituals and will leave on Sept. 25, have celebrated this special day with all of the people of Saudi Arabia, in what has widely been seen as a practical application of the Kingdom’s new 2030 vision.

Sheikh Al Amer added that a number of volunteers from different fields were cooperating with the association. They have circulated a clip on social media showing the Saudi national anthem being translated into sign language. The anthem was produced in association with Saleh Bin Hamood Al Nefaie, a sign language translator for the Friday sermon, which is regularly broadcasted from the Holy Mosque in Makkah and aired on the Qur’an Channel.