Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz asked Friday Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz to oversee this year’s Muslim hajj pilgrimage and lead a reception that will be held to welcome the heads of international hajj missions and accompanying military officers.
An estimated two million Muslim pilgrims are expected to attend this year’s hajj. The number of pilgrims has been reduced this year due to development plans intended to expand the holy mosque.
“The proportion of pilgrims outside of Saudi Arabia has been reduced by 20 percent while the percentage of reduction from inside the kingdom has been reduced by 50 percent,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj Bandar Hajjar said earlier this year.
Official spokesman of the ministry of hajj, Hatem Ghadi, meanwhile said “the absorptive capacity which used to absorb 42,000 fell to 22,000 per hour during the past year”
“In this period we must all coexist together” he added.
Hajjar said the development plan is meant to eventually raise the capacity of pilgrims to seven million.
About 225,000 employees are working this year to serve the pilgrims this year.
Prince Khaled al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah region, said in an interview with Al Arabiya that there are eight hospitals and 96 medical centers in the holy land, which includes Mina, Mozdalefa, and Arafat, ready to deal with all sorts of health conditions that may arise during hajj.
Prince Khaled said security forces have taken measures to prevent people without hajj permit from entering Makkah. He said 15,000 people without proper licenses were denied entry to the Muslim holy lands and 63 fake hajj campaigns were broken up in the city of Dammam.