Hajj agents face penalties from Saudi disciplinary council for breaching contracts with pilgrims

An aerial view shows pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP)
Updated 08 September 2017

Hajj agents face penalties from Saudi disciplinary council for breaching contracts with pilgrims

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has referred a group of Tawafa service providers, including some Hajj offices serving Algerian pilgrims, to the ministry’s disciplinary council pending trial and application of penalties against them.
The ministry stressed it will apply strict penalties on Tawafa establishments proved to have breached service contracts signed between them and pilgrims. Penalties will range between fines and revoking permission to practice the profession.
The disciplinary council, which comprises representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecution, is assigned to look into Tawafa establishments in breach of regulations stipulated in the Tawafa system, and other decisions and regulations ordered by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
This will be the first case where Tawafa service providers have been referred to the appropriate authorities in the Kingdom. Three years ago, the then-Bureau of Investigation and General Prosecution (BIGP), currently the Public Prosecution, referred one employee of the National Establishment of Tawafa for South Asian Pilgrims in Makkah Region to court for insulting and questioning the integrity of the ministry’s staff.
Meanwhile, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Salih Bentin on Wednesday honored a number of the ministry staff for their efforts and accomplishments, as well as their effective contributions to the success of the current Hajj season. The ceremony came on the sidelines of the annual party for the heads and members of Hajj affairs offices, and guests of the Hajj mega-symposium of the current Hajj season.
Those honored included the adviser and general supervisor to the Hajj mega-symposium, Hatim Qadi; the head of the organizing committee of the symposium Hisham Al-Abbas; head of the scientific committee, Yusuf Al-Faqi; the head of logistics committee, Bandar Al-Sulaimani; head of the media committee Ali Al-Ghamdi; the head of the reception committee, Husam Najm; and the head of the administrative and financial committee, Said Al-Harbi.
In another development, the director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) Salih Al-Jasir on Wednesday inspected the Hajj and Umrah terminal at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah and was briefed on the operational process and Hajj departure flights in their second day. He also met with members of work teams assigned to serve pilgrims and, in this context, expressed his appreciation for their efforts in this regard.
The Saudia chief also lauded the cooperation between Saudia and Hajj grouping agencies and urged them to enhance on the success witnessed by the operational plans of Saudia in the arrival stage of pilgrims which grew by 40 percent compared to pilgrims transported last year.
He said serving pilgrims comes atop priorities of the national carrier (Saudia) and, thus, plays that role as do other government agencies concerned with serving pilgrims. He said they were proud to undertake that responsibility to the fullest.
Measures and arrangements were taken to facilitate the departure of pilgrims and achieve the highest rates of smooth movement, he pointed out.


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 1 min 39 sec ago

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.