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Saudi Arabia sets plan to merge small local hajj companies

Saudi Arabia is planning to merge small local Hajj operators to a form single big entity, Hajj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar has said

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Saudi Arabia is planning to merge small local Hajj operators to a form single big entity, Hajj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar has said.

“Some of the more than 200 small local Hajj operators are only serving a maximum of 100 pilgrims each. So it will be more feasible if they merge into a single big entity,” he said, adding that the merger is currently being studied by concerned officials.

He made it clear that the ministry does not differentiate between big or small companies in the allocation of domestic pilgrims.

The minister said that the number of domestic pilgrims is determined by Mina’s limited geographical area which cannot be extended according to the Shariah rules.

“As an alternative solution, the ministry is considering to merge small Hajj operators into a big entity which will be given enough number of pilgrims and which will be able to provide better services to the guests of God at affordable prices,” he said.

Hajjar said domestic Hajj campaigns were invited to give their views on the merger which was aimed at reducing the administrative and marketing costs, upgrading services and ensuring enough pilgrims for the company.

He said the ministry is currently studying the remarks and observations of Hajj companies on its e-track system which it had launched last year.

Hajjar revealed that the ministry was also working on promoting the Tuwafa establishments which provide services to the external pilgrims with a view to restructuring them to provide better services.

He commended the level of cooperation with Hajj missions and said coordination meetings were annually held with them three months before the Hajj season. Asked about the establishment of multi-story buildings in the valleys in Mina, the minister noted that six such towers already exist in Mina. The proposal, which was approved by the Council of Senior Scholars, is currently under study by the authorities concerned.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Feb. 22, 2016.