1.8 million foreign pilgrims expected

Updated 05 October 2012
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1.8 million foreign pilgrims expected

JEDDAH: More than 1.8 million foreign pilgrims were expected to perform Haj this year, Haj Minister Bandar Hajar announced recently.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the headquarters of the Tawafa Organization for South Asian Pilgrims, Hajar said there was no plan to reduce the number of Umrah pilgrims for the mataf (circumambulation area around the Kaaba) expansion project. 
The minister said this year’s was the most successful Umrah season. An estimated 5.5 million foreign pilgrims came to the Kingdom. “We issued 5.8 million Umrah visas this year. Most of the 5.5 million pilgrims came for Umrah have already left the Kingdom. Only 10,000 pilgrims are now remaining in the country,” he said.
“This is a big success compared to the Umrah season of 2005, when 2.5 million foreign pilgrims came and about half of them remained in the country, overstaying their Umrah visas,” he explained.
Hajar said despite the convening of an emergency Islamic summit in Makkah, the Umrah pilgrims who came from different parts of the world were able to leave the Kingdom without any difficulty. He commended the efforts of all government departments for the success of the Umrah season.
Hajar said he is ready to meet the Shoura Council if he gets an invitation from the consultative body. “I have not yet received any invitation and I am ready to accept the invitation at any time,” he said.
Hajar met with chairman and members of the organization’s board of directors and discussed its preparations for the Haj season. He urged the organization to make use of the huge facilities being provided by the government in the service of pilgrims.
The ministry has set out a plan for sending pilgrims of various Tawafa organizations to the Jamrat and the Haram Mosque in coordination with the Public Security and Civil Defense Department.
Adnan Katib, president of the Tawafa Organization of South Asian Pilgrims, said they had discussed with Hajar the organization’s operation plan for the Haj season.
“We have discussed various aspects to improve services for pilgrims including housing, transport and general planning,” Katib said, adding that the organization would mobilize all its resources to extend the best possible services to the guests of God.

 


Saudi Arabia says missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead

Updated 20 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia says missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead

  • The journalist died after a fistfight at the consulate in Istanbul
  • Deputy intelligence chief, royal court adviser removed from positions, 18 Saudis arrested

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying a preliminary investigation indicated he lost his life after a fight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul... devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,” the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.
Eighteen Saudis have been arrested in connection with the incident and the investigation is ongoing, the public prosecutor said.
“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public opinion, to hold all those involved accountable and bring them to justice,” a statement on the SPA said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the consulate to complete paperwork related to his divorce.
Deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Asiri was removed from his position and Saud Al-Qahtani from his advisory role at the Royal Court, through royal decrees.
Three other intelligence officials who were also sacked have been named as Mohammad bin Saleh Al-Rumaih, Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Shaya and Rashad bin Hamed Al-Muhamadi.
King Salman also ordered the creation of a ministerial committee, headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to restructure the country’s General Intelligence agency and issue the results of its work within a month.
Members of the committee include the interior and foreign ministers as well as the heads of the General Intelligence and State Security.
A team of Saudi investigators were sent to Istanbul and have been working on the case with Turkish detectives, who entered the consulate on Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Saudi Arabia promised a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened to the journalist in Turkey.