20% cut in quota for foreign Hajis stays

Updated 14 January 2014

20% cut in quota for foreign Hajis stays

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it would continue to impose a 20-percent cut in foreign pilgrims and a 50-percent reduction in domestic pilgrims during the upcoming Haj season.
“The government will continue to request foreign countries to slash the quota of their Haj pilgrims by 20 percent due to ongoing expansion works in Makkah and the holy sites,” said Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar.
Speaking to the Turkish Haj mission, he said the measure was taken upon directives issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims.
Hajjar said Saudi Arabia would be able to host more pilgrims once the expansion works for the Grand Mosque and "mataf” are completed.
Saad Al-Qurashi, chairman of the National Committee for Haj and Umrah at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the early announcement of the government’s decision to reduce the number of Haj pilgrims would help Haj service companies and hotels avoid losses.
“We understand that this reduction will continue for one more year,” he told Arab News.
Last year, Haj service providers in Makkah and other cities suffered losses worth SR2 billion for renting hotel rooms, arranging food and purchasing plane tickets, especially because of the drastic reduction in the number of domestic pilgrims.
Khaled Al-Kaf, a manager of a Haj service company, said last year’s decision to cut the number of pilgrims came to them as a surprise. “The late decision had a negative impact on our Haj preparations,” he said.
Hajjar highlighted the success of the electronic track system applied on Haj pilgrims. “It enabled pilgrims to know the various services they would enjoy before arriving in the Kingdom.”
Hajjar said the electronic system has made things clear and transparent and the issuance of Haj visas faster. “It also ensures better services to pilgrims.”
The minister’s meeting with foreign Haj missions was aimed at making early preparations for the upcoming Haj season. Saudi Arabia has established about 70 offices worldwide to provide Haj-related services.
Hajjar emphasized the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Mehmet Gormez, head of religious affairs in Turkey and the country’s mission, commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve Haj services.
“Saudi Arabia has been shouldering this great responsibility over the years with dedication and efficiency,” Gormez said.
He said the meeting would help the two sides make early arrangements for pilgrims. He stressed the importance of educating pilgrims about Haj-related matters prior to their arrival in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi health minister promises to procure tested COVID-19 vaccine

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2020

Saudi health minister promises to procure tested COVID-19 vaccine

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday said the Kingdom will procure vaccine for the novel coronavirus once it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

He said research on the vaccine is underway in a number of countries and the Saudi health authorities are following the developments.
The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decline in the Kingdom with the recovery rate from the illness rising to 96 percent. The minister attributed the decline on the “commitment to health precautions.”
“I also thank my fellow health practitioners for their wonderful efforts,” Al-Rabiah said.
Commenting on the second and stronger wave of COVID-19 in some countries, he said it was due to a lack of “commitment to social distancing” and failure to wear masks and taking other precautions.
He ruled out any leniency on part of the government in its fight against the virus. The minister said it is necessary to abide by precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday.

• With 16 new fatalities, the virus-related death toll has risen to 5,201.

“We (all) are in one boat, and the failure of some affects everyone, so we must work together” to check the spread of the virus.
He also advised people who show COVID-19 symptoms to visit Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
“Appointments can be made through the ministry’s Sehaty app, and anyone who has any questions or wants to consult a doctor can call 937,” the minister said.
Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday. The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 348,583 since the beginning of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
The Health Ministry said 16 more people died due to complications caused by the virus raising the death toll to 5,201. The ministry also reported 357 new recoveries. The total number of recovered cases has now increased to 328,895.