JEDDAH, 10 January 2004 — Haj Minister Iyad Madani has said that his ministry would deploy some 40,000 officials and workers to organize Haj, which is scheduled to start on Jan. 30. He said more than 1.8 million pilgrims were expected for Haj this year, including 1.3 million from abroad.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting facilities to receive pilgrims at King Abdul Aziz Airport here, the minister called upon pilgrims to ensure cleanliness during Haj by keeping their surroundings in Makkah, Madinah and other holy sites neat and tidy.
“Cleanliness in Haj is a Shariah and Health Requirement” is the slogan released by the ministry for the first time this year to highlight the importance of cleanliness and protect pilgrims’ health from diseases caused by environmental pollution.
Madani said the six tawafa organizations which are to serve pilgrims from different countries have formed 350 field groups. In addition, the Guides Offices in Madinah have 32 field groups while the Zamazima Office has 10 groups. There are 13 companies with 13,770 buses under the Car Syndicate to transport pilgrims.
He said his ministry would keep a close watch on return flights and ship schedules to avoid the long stay of pilgrims at airports and the Jeddah Islamic Port.
Referring to plans to confront possible rain and flash floods during the Haj season, Madani said his officials were holding regular meetings with the civil defense, the tawafa organizations and domestic pilgrim agents to prepare plans for such possible dangers.
The Haj Ministry has created a special force for crowd management at Jamrat or the stoning area in Mina in coordination with security forces. “We have trained 772 officials on rescue operations with the support of the civil defense department,” Al-Madinah Arabic daily quoted the minister as saying.
Madani said the Haj Ministry has modernized the operation systems of tawafa organizations and field groups. “All field workers have been advised to learn the language of the pilgrims they serve,” he said, adding that special language courses had been conducted for this purpose.
“We have also conducted several courses to improve the efficiency of workers in the areas of Islamic guidance, computer operation, and specialized services,” he said.
Companies and agents serving domestic pilgrims have been linked with the ministry through a computer system, Madani said. An automatic system has been introduced to issue Haj permits to both Saudis and expatriates, he added.
Efforts are under way to set up an executive bylaw to organize pilgrims brought by tourist companies, the minister said. The law will be applied next year. An information system has been prepared in coordination with the Foreign Ministry for these pilgrims. Special attention would be given to taking care of stranded pilgrims. Some 60 auto rickshaws will be provided for this purpose, he said, adding that 30 auto rickshaws will be allotted for the transportation of the injured and sick pilgrims.
Iranians Thank Saudis
Ayatollah Muhammad Rishahry, head of the Iranian Haj Organization, yesterday praised Saudi Arabia for sending several planeloads of relief supplies to alleviate the suffering of his country’s quake victims.
Speaking to reporters after sending off the first batch of Iranian pilgrims, he noted the Kingdom’s efforts in the service of pilgrims. He urged Iranians to perform the Haj duties in a disciplined manner following the Kingdom’s rules and regulations.
Saudi Arabian Airlines and Iran Air will transport some 97,000 pilgrims from 16 Iranian cities.