JEDDAH: The 11th Hajj is Worship and Civilized Behavior campaign kicked off on Wednesday under the slogan “Hajj is a message of peace,” launched by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, governor of Makkah, and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee.
The prince said that King Salman’s royal order establishing a Royal Commission for Makkah city and Holy Sites, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reflects the government’s keenness to improve these areas and provide visitors with the best services.
He described this move as a great development event in Makkah and the holy sites at a time when Saudi Arabia is eager to develop its capacities to serve pilgrims.
Prince Khaled said: “After the commission’s first board meeting, I can say that I am optimistic about the future of Makkah and the holy sites. We look forward to manifesting in the coming years the commission’s mission and projects as well as the way these projects will be planned and implemented.”
He thanked the security men for their exceptional work and said: “I’ve been watching the security’s performance during Hajj season since I was appointed the governor of Makkah, and I grow prouder each year of what they do to serve Islam, Saudi Arabia, and humanity.”
He also thanked the high and central Hajj committees for handling the reports submitted to them last year, and improving work processes and services in preparation for this year’s Hajj season.
Up until Tuesday, 558,000 pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia from around the world.
“Indonesia was in the forefront in terms of the number of pilgrims, with about 103,000 pilgrims,” the prince said. “About 93,000 pilgrims arrived from India, 82,000 from Pakistan, 45,000 from Turkey, more than 12,000 from Iraq, and none from Qatar.”
Asked about the campaign’s success in recent years, he replied: “This year’s campaign is an extension of the efforts exerted during the past 10 years, and we hope to challenge ourselves this year and provide a better campaign.”
Commenting on claims that Saudi Arabia is politicizing Hajj, the prince said: “The campaigns launched to defame Saudi Arabia can be refuted by the acts and services provided to pilgrims.”
The 11th Hajj is Worship and Civilized Behavior campaign, involving 30 government and private sector firms, comes under the guidance of the governor of Makkah and the supervision of the deputy governor, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar.
The campaign has four phases; the first is focused on Makkah residents and Hajj seasonal workers, to encourage a sense of honor receiving and serving pilgrims.
The second phase targets Saudi citizens and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals, and aims to raise awareness of the importance of issuing Hajj permits.
The third phase is aimed at all pilgrims and seeks to shed light on negative behaviors witnessed during Hajj, while the fourth phase is dedicated to thanking Hajj workers and pilgrims for complying with the guidelines.
Statistics show that since its launch a decade ago, the campaign has reduced the number of violations, fake campaigns and pilgrims who lack Hajj permits. It has also encouraged respect for the holy places, Hajj, humanity, and regulations.