Electronic device to check Haj permits

Volunteers hold banners warning people against performing Haj without a permit.

Volunteers hold banners warning people against performing Haj without a permit.

Saudi authorities have developed a new electronic system to track down people with fake Haj permits during the upcoming pilgrimage, a source at the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

“Security officers will carry the newly developed electronic readers to check Haj permits that have barcodes as pilgrims head to the holy sites through the checkpoints,” the source said.

He said the application of the new electronic system would reduce the use of fake Haj permits, adding that security officers would be able to check the Haj permits of pilgrims on a bus within 30 seconds.

“Before the introduction of the new system, checking the Haj permits of pilgrims traveling in a bus used to take 50 minutes,” the official said, adding that it delayed the flow of Haj buses at checkpoints in the past.

He said barcodes of licensed Haj service companies would be pasted on the windows of every Haj bus for quick scanning by the device.

The ministry official emphasized the fact that security officers at the entry points of Makkah and other holy sites have been trained to use the new electronic system to do their work quickly and efficiently.

He said the latest move would prevent entry of pilgrims who do not possess valid Haj permits and stop the use of fake permits.

“An important feature of this device is that it can operate without the support of Internet,” the official said.

Saudis and expats have welcomed the ministry’s efforts to organize the annual pilgrimage. “This system will definitely encourage people to obtain Haj permits before heading for the holy sites,” said Salim Al-Qahtani.

Al-Qahtani, who had previously performed Haj without the support of a Haj service company, said he was not satisfied with that pilgrimage because he was staying under the bridge to protect against sun.

“Staying in a proper tent will enable us to engage in worship and prayers without any difficulty,” he pointed out.

Authorities have warned that expat workers who are caught performing Haj without carrying a valid permit would be deported immediately and banned from entering the Kingdom for 10 years.

Similarly, the owners of vehicles used to smuggle illegal pilgrims to the holy sites will be detained and fined and their vehicles impounded.

An expat worker, who requested anonymity, said thousands of people perform Haj every year without permits and squat in public places, causing problem to other pilgrims. “They even block the smooth movement of Civil Defense and Red Crescent vehicles,” he pointed out.


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