126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

August 17, 2018

Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims arrive at Jeddah airport. (AFP)

  • Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well

DHAKA: The last Hajj flights from Bangladesh will leave for Saudi Arabia this morning.
About 125,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims have already reached the holy city Makkah, on special flights operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines
(Saudia).
The two operators will take the last batch of 1,400 pilgrims from Hazarat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, after which the Hajj flights will be closed until Aug. 27.
The Bangladesh government has made extensive efforts to cooperate with the Kingdom in arranging travel plans for pilgrims, said officials in Dhaka.
“Our Ministry of Religious Affairs is highly concerned about the well-being of the pilgrims,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj Office in Dhaka, told Arab News.
“About 250 Bangladesh officials, including the staff of the Bangladesh mission in Saudi Arabia, have been deployed at places that the pilgrims will visit while performing the rituals of Hajj,” he told Arab News.
Most of the staff of the Religious Affairs Ministry have been sent to Saudi Arabia to assist Bangladeshi pilgrims and provide them with emergency support, Islam said.
“Three medical camps have been established in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah with 30 doctors and nurses to cater to pilgrims’ medical needs. In case of emergency, arrangements have been made to move a pilgrim in critical condition to specialized local hospitals,” he added.
“This year, so far, everything is under control and running very smoothly,” said M. Shahadat Hossain Taslim, secretary-general of the Hajj Agencies Association of Banglaesh (HAAB).
Speaking to Arab News from Makkah, Taslim expressed his gratitude to the Hajj Ministry of Saudi Arabia for its “better Hajj management this year.”
“Last year, many Bangladeshi pilgrims faced difficulty due to lack of transport in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah,” he said. “But this year, we have addressed the issue well ahead of time and are not facing any problem in this regard.”
Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well, he added.
A total of 126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj this year.
The Hajj flights from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia will be closed after Friday and resume on Aug. 27 to bring the pilgrims back home.

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Saudi Arabia praised for services and facilities for Hajj pilgrims

August 16, 2018

Members of the Sports Academy, Kyrgyzstan, reach Makkah under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program. (AN photo)

  • Guests laud King Salman’s efforts to unify ranks
  • Tatarstan’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Kamil Ismailov hailed the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure pilgrims’ comfort and safety

MAKKAH: King Salman received thanks from guests at Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for welcoming and supporting pilgrims. They also thanked him for hosting them so that they can perform Hajj rituals.

The king’s guests praised the services provided for them from the moment they arrived in the holy lands. This underscores the depth of the Saudi experience in dealing with crowds and successfully hosting millions of pilgrims each year.

Tatarstan’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Kamil Ismailov hailed the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure pilgrims’ comfort and safety.

“The expansion projects in the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, as well as the readiness of all medical and security teams, constitute strong evidence of Saudi Arabia’s capacities and ability to organize and manage the crowds with every Hajj season,” he added.

Ismailov pointed out that Muslims represent 70 percent of the population in Tatarstan, and that it is the first country in the region to adopt Islam as a state religion since 922.

Sheikh Mustafa Jusufspahic, the grand mufti of Belgrade, in Serbia, said that King Salman’s hosting of pilgrims from all over the world continues a tradition of the leadership of this blessed land assisting and unifying Muslims. It continues the path of good and giving by the Kingdom’s leaders toward Islamic work in the world, accounting for its prestigious position in the Muslim world, he added.

Jusufspahic expressed his thanks and appreciation to King Salman for his great gesture that enables Muslims to perform Hajj easily and conveniently. He praised all services offered in the program, which is supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Mohammed Amin, a professor from Ethiopia, who is making his first visit to Makkah, commended King Salman’s invitation to Muslims from all over the globe. He also saidthat the Ethiopian people were well aware of the financial and cultural support provided by the Kingdom.

The imam of the Central Mosque in Ethiopia, Ibrahim Khalil, expressed his admiration for the warm reception he and his delegation received upon their arrival, their speedy entry into the country and the journey to their residence.

Guinean Islamic preacher Mohammed Idris said the infrastructure and the scale of the preparations in Makkah reflect the tremendous efforts from all sectors there. “The Kingdom endeavors to develop organization and management of the Hajj season every year, a fact highly acclaimed among Muslims in Guinea, who consider Saudi Arabia to be the heart of the Islamic world,” he said.

Professor Bassim Berniavorates, from the faculty of medicine at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia, said he was happy he had the opportunity to perform Hajj for the first time in his life, and was eager to meet Saudi people, to learn about their customs and traditions, and to visit popular markets that reflect the historical richness of Makkah.

He added that the Bosnian people were grateful for Saudi Arabia’s support throughout history, which has enabled them to overcome obstacles and crises and achieve their aspirations in building a civilized and democratic nation.

Bassim, a professor of anesthesia at the University Hospital in Sarajevo, noted that the program helped to extend bridges of communication with the world. “The Bosnians became more familiar with the Saudis and proud of this cultural fusion in the holiest parts of the earth,” said Bassim.

Dr. Mekhtbakh, from the Sports Academy in Kyrgyzstan, said that by visiting the holy land he had achieved a life-long dream. He expressed his thanks and appreciation to King Salman for his generous patronage and keenness to host Muslims from all over the world.

This article was first published in  ARAB NEWS

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Madinah introduces multilingual double-decker bus tour for Hajj pilgrims

August 16, 2018

All double-decker buses are equipped to transport people of all ages. (SPA)

  • The bus tour covers 12 stops, including the Prophet’s Mosque

JEDDAH- A new double-decker bus tour, supervised by the Development Authority of Madinah Region, will introduce visitors to some of Madinah’s historic landmarks as well as its entertainment facilities, commercial sites, and public utilities. The tour is part of the service extended to Hajj pilgrims and other visitors to the holy city.

The bus tour covers 12 stops, including the Prophet’s Mosque, Al-Manakha, the “Beautiful Names of Allah” exhibition, Al-Salam Door, Al-Uhud Mountain, Al-Noor Mall, Abu Bakr Road, Masjid Al-Qiblatain, Al-Khandaq Mosque, Quba Mosque, Hejaz railway and Quba Boulevard.

Trips start from the northern and southern entrances of the Prophet’s Mosque. The morning shift starts after the Fajr prayers and ends before noon, with departures every 30 minutes until noon, and the later shift starts after evening prayer with departures every 30 minutes until 11 p.m.

All double-decker buses, the authority announced, are equipped to transport people of all ages and people with special needs. Translation services covering 12 languages will apparently soon be available on the tours.

The authority said that these tours underline its continuous commitment to launch projects that enrich the experience of residents and visitors alike and provide high-quality services in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

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Hajj and politics don’t mix, says Saudi minister

August 15, 2018

Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Saleh Banten. (Ziyad Alarfaj)

  • Saudi Arabia has no condition to impose on any Muslim coming only to perform their Hajj rituals in peace, says minister
  • The minister also highlighted the importance of the Makkah Route project to ease Hajj for the pilgrims

MAKKAH- The Hajj and Umrah ministry made it clear, once again, that there is no place for politics during Hajj.

This was reiterated by Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Saleh Banten during the annual press conference at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel on Wednesday.

“Saudi Arabia has no condition to impose on any Muslim coming only to perform their Hajj rituals in peace,” he said.

He added that the conditions are only related to Allah, who ordered all capable Muslims to do their Hajj to the holy cities in peace and tranquility.

The minister highlighted the importance of the Makkah Route project to ease Hajj for the pilgrims. However, he noted that the technology his ministry is using to facilitate the Hajj process will limit the project to a few countries.

“We will surely expand the project, especially with the countries from which we annually receive a large number of pilgrims. In fact, if we apply the Route on six or seven countries, the process of pilgrims’ arrival will go smoothly and that will end many obstacles,” he said.

He added that the new technology they are using will make every pilgrim fully aware of his program and schedule of religious duties during Hajj.

“Moreover, the camps of pilgrims are equipped with TV devices through which we can transmit information and instructions to the pilgrims in their tents,” he said.

The Deputy minister for Hajj and Umrah, Abdul Fattah Al-Mashat, pointed out that the ministry has long adopted the use of technology to better serve the “Guests of Allah.”

“We are now using the latest technology to help pilgrims perform their rituals in all possible ease and comfort.

The minister launched the 43rd Hajj Symposium for this year with the presence of senior Muslim scholars from different parts of the Muslim world. The symposium will conclude Thursday here at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel.

At the beginning of the event, the Hajj and Umrah minister emphasized that the symposium embodies the carefulness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. He stressed: “This event is part of the role the Kingdom has been playing in spreading Islam’s moderate teachings.

“The symposium highlights the values and the true message of Hajj. It also stresses the importance of Hajj in spreading intimacy among Muslims,” he said.

The minister stressed the role of the Muslim scholars and intellectuals attending the symposium through the researches that focus on introducing the meaning of Hajj as a religious and scientific gathering, through which Muslims from all parts of the world meet and interact.

“The Kingdom understands quite well what message it has in the service of the two holy mosques, in particular, and whole Islamic Umma, in general. It is very keen to call to Islam and unite the Umma through Hajj,” he said.

On the other hand, Chief of the General Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais stressed the importance of the symposium, which has been held for the 43rd time, and the role of the Hajj and Umrah ministry in gathering the Muslim scholars during the Hajj. He also called upon all pilgrims to deal with Hajj as a means to control themselves.

The first session of the symposium was moderated by Dr. Abdullah Bafeel. Member of the Senior Ulama council and consultant to the royal court Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid talked about the Farewell Sermon. The Islamic Affairs Minister of Mauritania, Sheikh Ahmed Dawood, gave a future vision for Muslim unity. Meanwhile, the Head of Sharia Courts in Bahrain, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Hai, discussed moderation and tolerance as a method for a better life.

The second session, which saw the launching of the event, saw the Saudi minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, talking about “Saudi Arabia… heart of the Islamic World.” Al-Sudais then highlighted how an acceptable Hajj should be performed.

A third session saw a member of the senior Ulam council in Saudi Arabia and consultant to the royal court, Sheikh Saad Al-Shithry, continuing the topic of Al-Sudais. Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Shawqi Ibrahim Allam, highlighted the Saudi efforts in enforcing Muslims’ unity, defending and helping them.

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More than 192,000 employees to serve pilgrims during Hajj 2018

August 14, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics said a total of 192,254 employees, from both genders, will be working to deliver those services to pilgrims. (SPA)

Construction work at the Al-Wakrah Stadium, a $575 million (465 million euros) World Cup venue seating 40,000 designed by celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, some 15 kilometers on the outskirts of the Qatari capital Doha. (File photo / AFP / Karim Jaafar)

JEDDAH- Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics announced on Tuesday its statistical calendar for this year’s Hajj season, which includes more than 136 major services to be carried as part of the general services offered to pilgrims.
The authority said on its official website that a total of 192,254 employees, from both genders, will be working to deliver those services to pilgrims. It said 189,113 men and 3,141 women are working around the clock throughout the days of Hajj.
It also said that the number of equipment and machinery used in these services had reached 59,741, including 7,995 cars, 1,583 motorbikes, 13,349 wireless devices, and 3,760 computers.
It also highlighted the security services offered to pilgrims during Hajj as the main public service offered by the General Directorate of Public Security. The services include executing security and traffic plans to maintain public order in Makkah, Madinah and other holy sites.
It said 52 police stations 280 traffic centers and 75 security border gates have been set up at the entrances of Makkah and the holy sites.
Civil defense forces have deployed 15,000 members to execute its preventive awareness program.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Passport Control has deployed more than 5,000 staff officers, individuals and technicians to prepare outlets for the reception of pilgrims.
The National Information Center has assigned more than 1,355 technician and administrative officials to secure and prepare equipment that will can and read electronic Hajj permits.

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More than 100 Islamic preachers to answer pilgrim queries on new Hajj hotline

August 13, 2018

Through this service, the ministry aims to offer awareness and guidance to pilgrims. (File photo: AFP)

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance has registered a 24-hour helpline 800-245-1000 during Hajj season to answer the enquires of pilgrims.

A statement from the Saudi Press Agency said 128 Islamic preachers will be available to answer queries on the hotline.

Through this service, the ministry aims to offer awareness and guidance to pilgrims. It said the preachers will be available to provide information on any Hajj procedures by answering questions on the free hotline.

Fifty-nine telephone lines will be dedicated to the service, 24 in Makkah, 6 in Madinah and 29 in the sites of Menna, Muzdalifah and Arafat. The lines will operate based on the telecommunications relay service, that receives the call directly and transfers to the next line if there’s no answer, according to a schedule placed by the provider.

This article was first published in  Alarabiya

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Over 1.3m pilgrims to arrive in KSA for Hajj

August 12, 2018

Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the peak of the annual hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Makkah, in this October 25, 2012. (Reuters)

Muslim pilgrims head to take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Makkah, which marks the final major rite of the hajj, in this file photo taken on September 1, 2017. (AFP)

  • Electronic platforms had also helped to make the process easier
  • Capsules are fitted with a sliding door at the end that can be opened by a magnetic card for each user, to ensure privacy

JEDDAH- More than 1.3 million pilgrims are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj season, and more than 200,000 “domestic pilgrims” have also registered for services including the “low-cost Hajj,” “affordable Hajj,” and “general program,” the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced on Sunday.
The number of pilgrims registered for the general program is 160,221, with 37,891 signing up for low-cost Hajj and 10,016 for the affordable Hajj.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah Mashat said that the ministry had worked hard to ensure that all programs and facilities to receive guests in accordance with the highest standards were in place well in advance of the season. He said that its electronic platforms had also helped to make the process easier.
Mashat expressed his hope that all pilgrims would enjoy Hajj in comfort and safety and that God would accept their prayers and that they would return safely to their home countries after performing their pilgrimage.
This Hajj season pilgrims will also be able to try out the latest mobile hotel capsules — sleeping units that offer hotel room services and facilities in the smallest possible space, Hadiyah, the Hajji and Mu’tamer’s Gift Charitable Association has announced.
These capsules can be placed side-by-side or on top of each other, with a height of two units. When the capsules are stacked a three-step staircase gives access to the top capsule.
Capsules are fitted with a sliding door at the end that can be opened by a magnetic card for each user, to ensure privacy.

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Minister praises telecom sector’s Hajj efforts

August 10, 2018

Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha. (SPA)

JEDDAH-

The minister of communications and information technology, Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha, on Friday praised the telecommunication sector’s efforts to serve Hajj pilgrims.
He inspected the readiness of the Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) to welcome this year’s Hajj season at Mount Arafat. He was accompanied by his deputy, Haitham bin Abdulrahman Al-Ohali, the governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Salem Al-Ruwais, and the STC’s acting CEO Dr. Tarig Enaya.
Al-Sawaha said: “I was pleased to see the dedication and team spirit. We are very proud of our partners and their efforts to use new technologies in order to improve and facilitate the performance of rituals.”

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Kingdom served 54 million Haj pilgrims over 25 years: GaStat

Time : August 08, 2018

RIYADH — According to official statistics released by the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat), the total number of Haj pilgrims who were served by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the last 25 years reached 53,928,358.

The lowest number of pilgrims was registered in the Haj season of 1995 (1415H) when the number of pilgrims was 1,781,370. On the other hand, the highest number of pilgrims was registered was in 1433H when 3,161,573 performed the annual pilgrimage.

During the last 10 years, the number of pilgrims was 23,834,151.

GaStat spokesman Taiseer Al-Mofarrej said counting the numbers of pilgrims each year has been one of the important tasks performed by the authority. The counting of pilgrims started in 1390H in order to obtain accurate information to help all governmental entities to plan and develop the services provided to the pilgrims. However, the task has been performed for many years, with a lot of developments in the methods of counting and enumeration so that they can be applied in an accurate, comprehensive, and professional way.

Al-Mofarrej said the Haj statistics program helps plan the necessary services for pilgrims, whether social, health, security, food or transportation. It is done by using a time series of accurate data on the numbers of pilgrims, the estimates of manpower needed to serve the pilgrims and to maintain their safety and comfort during the Haj season of each year. The data and numbers of pilgrims are used by the entities concerned in studies to prepare facilities in Makkah and the holy site. In addition, it provides accurate information and data on Haj for researchers, students, beneficiaries and those interested in this field.

The data is also used for the evaluation of activities and events conducted by the entities concerned with serving the pilgrims, as well as to identify ways of arrival of domestic pilgrims and the pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom.

The GaStat spokesman revealed the statistics on services provided by various government agencies to pilgrims would be announced periodically from the first of Dhul Hijjah. The authority will release the final and official number of pilgrims this year on Dhul Hijjah 9, through a Haj statistics bulletin in detail including the number of internal pilgrims, the number of pilgrims from abroad, pilgrims by sex, nationality and destination, number of vehicles used for transporting pilgrims as well as their types, and other detailed data.

During the past 25 years, the number of pilgrims exceeded 3 million pilgrims only once, while their number exceeded 2 million pilgrims 12 times. On the other hand, during two seasons, their number fell below 2 million, with the lowest number of pilgrims recorded in 1415H (1995 AD).

This article was first published in  Saudi Gazette

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Saudi Arabia renews welcome to Qataris at Hajj, despite Doha registration block

August 07, 2018

Benten reaffirmed that the kingdom will ensure that Qatari pilgrims can still register their details and finish any paperwork at the airport in Jeddah. (Shutterstock)

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday renewed its welcome to Qatari citizens who wish to perform Hajj this year, despite Qatari authorities blocking websites created by the Hajj ministry for registration.

Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah Minister Muhammad Saleh Benten reaffirmed on Tuesday that the kingdom welcomes any Qatari pilgrims who want to perform Hajj this year.

Benten added that the kingdom will ensure Qatari pilgrims are able to perform Hajj easily, despite the Qatari government blocking the websites created specifically to facilitate the process for Qatari pilgrims.

Benten reaffirmed that the kingdom will ensure that Qatari pilgrims can still register their details and finish any paperwork at the airport in Jeddah, and any Qataris living outside of Qatar can access the portal to register their details through the ministry website.

This article was first published in  Alarabiya

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