Over 1.3 million Muslim pilgrims arrive for Hajj

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

As many as 1,323,520 pilgrims have arrived from various parts of the world to perform this year’s Hajj, which climaxes on Sunday with the Standing on Arafat.

According to Director General of the Passports Department (Jawazat) Maj. Gen. Solaiman Al-Yahya, 1,245,203 pilgrims have arrived by air through King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah.

He said 65,594 pilgrims have arrived by land from neighboring countries and the rest by sea through various seaports, mainly the Jeddah Islamic Seaport.

Al-Yahya said that 216 foreign pilgrims who did not observe Hajj instructions were sent back to their respective countries. The violations included forging of 52 passports.

Under the instructions of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Naif, deputy premier, interior minister and the chairman of the Supreme Hajj committee, any external pilgrim with valid Hajj permit who arrives late for valid reasons such as flight delay will be received and rushed to Makkah.

Meanwhile, Hashim Al-Falih, chairman of the Haj Preparation Committee at the Makkah Governorate, said that 189,000 people who attempted to enter Makkah and the Holy Sites were sent back from checkpoints since the beginning of the Hajj season until Thursday.

He said the violating Saudi pilgrims will face imprisonment and fines while expatriates will face the same punishment and deportation.

Falih, who is adviser to Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, said 48,000 vehicles transporting illegal pilgrims were confiscated and 22 fake Hajj companies sealed.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has warned that those domestic pilgrims who have registered for Hajj and paid the fees but did not go for the pilgrimage will not get their money back.

“There will not be any reimbursement of fees for domestic pilgrims who are not in Makkah or the Holy Sites for Haj by Friday,” the ministry said in a statement.

However, those intending pilgrims who informed the ministry about their change of mind September 5 will be reimbursed with a 40 percent deduction. But those who informed on September 8 that they won’t be performing Hajj will be reimbursed with a deduction of 70 percent.


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