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 public prosecution announces results of investigation into Khashoggi killing

Updated 43 min 9 sec ago
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Saudi public prosecution announces results of investigation into Khashoggi killing

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Thursday he was seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was killed in the country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2 after a struggle by a lethal injection dose and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, he told reporters in Riyadh.

The Prosecutor said Khashoggi’s body parts were then handed over to a local Turkish agent outside the consulate grounds, the spokesman said, adding that the drawing of the agent has been prepared and will be handed over to the Turkish authorities.

He said that the head of Khashoggi’s repatriation team was the one who ordered the killing of the victim, adding that the investigations into the whereabouts of the victim’s body are still ongoing.

He noted that the mission of the team was to persuade Khashoggi to return to the kingdom.

The prosecutor said a former adviser had been due to meet the team that was ordered to repatriate journalist Khashoggi, who was killed after efforts to negotiate his return failed.

He added that the ex-advisor had been banned from travelling and remained under investigation, and that the case has been transferred to court while investigations continue.

The prosecutor said Saudi Arabia has requested Turkey to sign a cooperation deal on a probe into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We have requested the brotherly Turkish authorities to sign a special cooperation mechanism specific to this case in order to provide them with the results of the investigation,” he said, adding that “the public prosecutor is still awaiting a response to these requests.”