Over 600,000 Muslim pilgrims expected to visit Madinah before Hajj

Pilgrims started arriving on Thursday, the Ministry has announced that more than 30,000 pilgrims have registered so far

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More than 600,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Madinah to pay homage to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and pray at his mosque, according to Hatim Qadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

He said the pilgrims started arriving in Madinah on Thursday. “On that day, 60 Hajj flights landed at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah,” he added.

The spokesman said 14 lounges have been prepared at the airport to receive the pilgrims who will be served by 42 passport counters.

Qadi said all government and private establishments are geared to receive the pilgrims and provide them with the best services that will help them perform their acts of worship in peace and comfort.

He explained that nine establishments are providing services to the pilgrims. Representatives of six Tawafa establishments, the Unified Zamzam Office in Makkah, the Unified Office of Agents receive them on arrival at the entry points, in addition to the Establishment of Guides in Madinah.

Qadi said the number of pilgrims this year is expected to be similar to last year as the cut in the quota system is still being applied.

Since the 2013 Hajj, the Saudi government has decided to enforce a reduction in the number of pilgrims permitted for each country under a quota system approved by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to allow expansion work at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The request to reduce the number of pilgrims from abroad by a fifth and from inside the country by half was approved by the OIC and the country’s religious leadership. The Supreme Judicial Council said the reduction in pilgrim numbers was legitimate to ensure safety while work was carried out to allow more pilgrims in future.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced on Sunday that the electronic registration of domestic pilgrims is continuing smoothly after a delay of two days during which many pilgrims were not able to access the service.

The ministry said the fault in the system resulted from heavy pressure because a large number of people attempted to register at the same time.

The ministry said more than 30,000 pilgrims have registered so far.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Aug. 08, 2016.

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