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Saudi Arabia sees drastic drop in illegal Hajj pilgrims

Nearly 1,950,000 pilgrims performed Hajj this year, of whom about 1.38 million came from outside and 567,000 were domestic pilgrims

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The percentage of illegal pilgrims has dropped to 10 percent this year from 78 percent last year, according to Emir of Makkah region Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is the chairman of the Central Hajj Committee.

The emir attributed this huge drop in the number of illegal pilgrims to awareness campaigns which focused on the theme: “No Hajj without Permit.”

Saudi Prince Khaled approved a workshop next month to evaluate the performances of all government and private agencies concerned with Hajj.

He also called for making plans for next year’s Hajj.

The workshop will discuss a number of services being provided to pilgrims, including accommodation, transportation, food, reception on arrival, departure and grouping.

He asked all departments concerned to present their proposals on how to ensure a smooth and comfortable Hajj.

In a meeting, Prince Khaled reviewed the statistics on the number of pilgrims, flight schedules, and the relocation of government departments from holy sites to their new premises in Makkah.

As many as 27 government departments involved in Haj services have vacated their offices in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah and shifted to their new offices near Makkah.

The emir asked all government departments involved in Haj services to hand over their offices in holy sites to the Ministry of Haj to be uses for the accommodation of pilgrims.

According to the statistical report, a total of 1,950,000 pilgrims performed Hajj this year. Of whom about 1.38 million came from outside and 567,000 were domestic pilgrims.

The meeting called for using various languages to enlighten the pilgrims and to ask them to abide by the Haj rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, the Department of Passports (Jawazat) informed the meeting that 1,377,708 pilgrims have left Saudi Arabia for their respective countries after performing Hajj.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 10, 2015.