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Saudi Arabia warns Umrah firms against shabby lodging for pilgrims

The ministry asked the companies to honor their commitments agreed upon with the ministry before the arrival of the pilgrims

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The Hajj Ministry has warned Umrah companies not to lodge their pilgrims in unsuitable accommodations in Makkah and Madinah and threatened violators with severe punishment.

“If the pilgrims of a certain company were found without accommodation in one of the two holy cities, the ministry will accommodate them in the available hotels and deduct the cost from the company’s bank guarantee,” the ministry said in a statement published by Makkah daily.

The ministry asked the companies to honor their commitments agreed upon with the ministry before the arrival of the pilgrims including due care of their accommodation and transport.

It asked the companies to link the pilgrims’ data to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah through the e-track.

“Any incorrect data will subject the companies to questioning and punishment,” the ministry said.

The ministry said hotels and other buildings earmarked for accommodating pilgrims should be classified by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and have safety licenses from the Civil Defense.

“Any violation of these two conditions will subject the Umrah company to punishment including cancellation of its operation permit,” the ministry said.

It made it a condition on the companies to provide it daily with the number of the pilgrims actually present in Makkah and Madinah.

The ministry also said the means of transport should be approved by the Transport Ministry and asked the companies to provide enough number of drivers and not to exhaust them for the safety of the pilgrims.

The ministry, however, said the place of accommodation and the means of transport could be changed before or after the arrival of the pilgrim through e-track on condition that the pilgrim has approved the change.

It also asked the companies to provide it with the date of arrival and departure of pilgrims.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 17, 2015.