Jeddah, 10th January 2004
The Minister of Hajj, Iyad Madani, said that his Ministry would deploy 40,000 officials and workers to assist with Hajj organisation. This year’s Hajj is scheduled to commence on 30 January.
The Minister said that over 1.8 million pilgrims are expected to perform Hajj this year, including 1.3 million from abroad. Speaking to reporters after inspecting facilities to receive pilgrims at King Abdul Aziz Airport, Madani called upon pilgrims to promote cleanliness during Hajj by keeping Makkah, Madinah and the other holy sites tidy. He said that cleanliness during Hajj is required by the Islamic Shariah and to preserve the good health of pilgrims. “Cleanliness is a Shariah and Health Requirement” is the slogan released by the Ministry for the first time this year, to highlight the importance of cleanliness and protect pilgrims from diseases caused by environmental pollution.
Madani said that the six Tawafa organizations which will serve pilgrims from different countries have formed 350 field groups. The Guides Offices in Madinah have 32 field groups, and the “Zamazima” Office has 10 groups. There are thirteen companies with 13,770 buses under the Car Syndicate for the transportation of pilgrims. Madani said that his Ministry would keep a close watch on return flights and ship schedules to ensure that pilgrims do not prolong their stay at airports and the Jeddah Port. At the holy sites, sixty auto-rickshaws will be provided to assist abandoned pilgrims, and thirty will be allocated to transport injured and sick pilgrims.
Referring to plans to tackle possible rain and flash floods during the Hajj season, Madani said that his officials are holding regular meetings with officials representing Civil Defence, Tawafa organizations, and domestic pilgrim agencies to put in place plans to deal with such eventualities.
The Hajj Ministry has created a special force to oversee crowd management at the Jamrat stoning area in Mina, in cooperation with security forces. “We have trained 772 officials to carry out rescue operations with the support of the civil defence department,” Al-Madinah Arabic daily quoted Madani as saying.
Madani said that the Hajj Ministry has modernized the systems of operation of Tawafa organizations and field groups. “All field workers have been advised to learn the language of the pilgrims they serve,” he said, adding that special language courses had been established for this purpose. “We have also set up several courses to improve the efficiency of workers in Islamic guidance, computer skills and specialized services,” he said.
Companies and agents serving domestic pilgrims have been linked with the Ministry on a computer system, and an automatic system has been introduced to issue Hajj permits to both Saudis and expatriates. Efforts are underway to set up an executive by-law to organize pilgrims brought to the Kingdom by tourist companies. The law will be applied next year. An information system has been prepared in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry for the above pilgrims.
Ayatollah Mohammad Rishahry, head of the Iranian Hajj Organization, yesterday praised Saudi Arabia for sending several aircraft loaded with relief assistance to alleviate the suffering of Iranian earthquake victims. Speaking to reporters after the departure of the first group of Iranian pilgrims, he noted the Kingdom’s great efforts in service of pilgrims. He urged Iranians to perform their Hajj duties in a disciplined manner, following the Kingdom’s rules and regulations.
Saudi Arabian Airlines and Iran Air will transport 97,000 pilgrims from sixteen Iranian cities, according to a report published today by Arab News.