MAKKAH: Saudi authorities have announced that they are ready for this year’s Hajj season, and that violations will be dealt with appropriately, especially regarding health preventive measures.
At a press conference at the Security Operations Center in Makkah on Tuesday afternoon, Commander of Hajj Security Forces Maj. Gen. Zayed bin Abdulrahman Al-Tuwayan said that Saudi Arabia has been organizing the Hajj season for years, — hosting millions of pilgrims — and “we have no problem with that at all.”
He added: “The security of our country in general is a red line, and the safety of pilgrims is of the same level of importance. However, with what the whole world is witnessing due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it was decided to limit the numbers of pilgrims to preserve their health and safety.”
He added that since the decision was taken, the Ministry of Interior has been working on preparing plans that can ensure a safe and smooth Hajj season. The officer said plans were approved by the Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif.
Briefing the media representatives on the security plans, Al-Tuwayan reaffirmed that no one would be allowed to enter the Grand Mosque area or the holy sites unless they have an official Hajj permit from the Hajj and Umrah Ministry.
“In addition … These permits are linked with the Tawakkalna application,” the Hajj Security Forces commander said.
He explained that this year’s pilgrims will be received through four main entrance locations, where security staff and Hajj and Umrah officials will welcome them and ensure that they are carrying their official Hajj permits, before allowing them to board buses to the Grand Mosque.
“One of these locations is for those coming from Jeddah. There are other security zones in Al-Taneem, Al-Shara’i, for those who are coming from Taif, and the Kor checkpoint, for those coming from Al-Hada. As for those who are coming by train, they will be directed to the nearest location to join the other pilgrims,” he said.
He added that the pilgrims from inside Makkah will not be allowed to head directly to the Grand Mosque.
“These pilgrims will go to the nearest of the four locations. From there, they can board buses to transport them to the Grand Mosque. Legal procedures will be taken against whoever violates these instructions,” Al-Tuwayan warned.
He added that after the pilgrims finish their tawaf and sa’e, they will leave the Grand Mosque through the Bab Ali grouping station, from where they will be transported to their temporary residences.
The commander noted that penalties will be immediately imposed on anyone who violates the procedures “whether they are Saudi nationals or residents.”
The same treatment will apply against those who may be caught trying to illegally enter the Grand Mosque or the holy sites.
Al-Tuwayan said that the government has made all services, such as transportations and housing, ready for the pilgrims to facilitate their Hajj journey.
Other Hajj Security Forces speakers in the press conference included Maj. Gen. Saleh Al-Murraba’a, commander for passports, Maj. Gen. Homoud Al-Faraj, commander for civil defense and Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Al-Musaad, assistant commander for road security, who all shed light on their plans and duties during this year’s Hajj.
The press conference was presented by a female soldier for the first time. Abeer Al-Rashed impressed the audience with her self-confidence and elegant Arabic.
Meanwhile, spokesman for the Hajj Security Forces Command, Brig. Gen. Sami Al-Shuwairekh, said that 10 people have been arrested for violating the Hajj regulations and instructions, as they did not have a valid permit.
He said legal measures have been taken against them and they have each been fined SR10,000 ($2,666).
Al-Shuwairekh called on all citizens and residents to abide by the instructions for this year’s pilgrimage season, adding that security forces will take legal measures against anyone who tries to reach the Grand Mosque, its central surrounding area and the holy sites (Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat) without a permit until July 23.