Haj permit must to enter Makkah
Authorities have restricted entry into the holy city of Makkah to those without Haj permit or those residing outside the city limits. The move comes as the first batch of pilgrims from South Africa arrived at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport on Tuesday.
A report in Makkah daily on Tuesday said expatriates with regular iqamas issued in cities other than Makkah will not be allowed to enter the city. The ban, the paper said, came into effect from Monday.
The sources said this is a precautionary measure to prevent expatriates who are not residing in the holy city or without official Haj permits to enter Makkah or go to the holy sites.
They said the Jawazat has liaised with the Makkah police to ensure not a single expatriate will be able to enter Makkah if he or she is not a regular resident of the holy city or holder of a Haj permit.
The sources said security forces have been stationed at all entry points to Makkah from Riyadh, Taif, Jeddah and other regions to enforce the ruling. They said all roads leading to Makkah from anywhere in the Kingdom are being closely monitored.
“The measure has been taken to stop anyone who dares to challenge the Haj rules and regulations, try to perform the pilgrimage or find work opportunities in the Holy Sites,” said a source.
Meanwhile, Khaled Al-Harbi, director of the department of Haj and Umrah at KAIA, said he and officials from the Bangladeshi embassy would on Wednesday receive about 300 pilgrims from Dhaka on arrival. He said Haj flights would continue arriving in the Kingdom until Sept. 28.
Al-Harbi said 14 lounges in the Haj terminal have been set aside to receive pilgrims.
Meanwhile, Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar has categorically denied reports that the Kingdom was charging fees for the issuance of Haj or Umrah visas.
“Our diplomatic missions abroad grant Haj and Umrah visas free of charge,” he said.
Hjjar said the government departments involved in providing Haj services do not charge pilgrims for the services offered to them.
“We even provide financial help to pilgrims who may run out of money during Haj for one reason or another, enabling them to complete their rituals and go back home,” he said.
The minister explained that pilgrims only pay to the private sector establishments for their transport, accommodation and sustenance.
The minister reiterated the importance of the Haj permit for domestic pilgrims, including Saudis and expatriates living in the Kingdom.
“Even GCC citizens are not exempted from the requirement of Haj permits that they can obtain from their own countries,” he said.
Hajjar denied claims by some foreign Haj companies that the Kingdom had decided special quotas for Umrah pilgrims. He said: “There is no truth to this claim.
“We have no intention of limiting the number of Umrah pilgrims. “The quota system is only applied to pilgrims who come wfor Haj.”
He described the recently concluded Umrah season as very successful and said more than 6 million people had come to perform their rites. “They all left for their respective homes, except for a very few who are now getting ready to depart,” he said. The Umrah season started late November and concluded in July. Around 1.39 million pilgrims are expected to come for Haj this year.