JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Monday 25 February 2013
Last update 1 March 2013 4:25 pm
The number of Umrah pilgrims who arrived in the Kingdom during the past three months reached more than 1.6 million, Haj Minister Dr. Bandar Hajjar said yesterday.
“We expect the arrival of a record number of Umrah pilgrims during this Ramadan,” the minister said, adding that the total number of Umrah pilgrims this year would exceed six million.
He said all government departments are working together to provide the necessary services to pilgrims. “We expect an increase of 500,000 pilgrims during this Umrah season compared to last year.”
He said the number of Umrah pilgrims increases by 10 to 20 percent every year.
Hajjar said the ministry arranged meetings with representatives of Haj missions in more than 70 countries to make early preparations for the upcoming Haj season. “These meetings are aimed at helping these Haj missions organize their pilgrims by educating them on Haj rituals,” the ministers said.
Egypt, Pakistan and Algeria were expected to send the highest number of pilgrims, according to figures given by Saudi missions abroad. The minister said the expansion of mataf (the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) would not affect pilgrims as Saudi authorities have made arrangements to ensure their convenience.
Hajjar said the electronic track system for Umrah was working well. “Our officials will inspect the services being provided to pilgrims by various companies and take action against negligent operators,” he added.