Over 2.5 Million pilgrims from around the globe performed the Hajj
this year as all the rituals associated with the annual worship ended
peacefully and without any major hiccup.
year’s Haj was successful and free of any major accident", said
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is the chairman of the
Central Haj Committee while addressing a press conference
He said 1.6
million pilgrims came from outside, 2.52 million Hajis threw stones
at the Jamrat and the number of illegal pilgrims touched 753,000.
of Haj would have been much easier had it not been for the large
number of illegal pilgrims,” he said.
stressed that the policy of enforcing Haj permit requirements would
be strictly observed in the future and warned domestic pilgrims
against using the services of illegal Haj tour operators.
He also said
stricter actions would be taken to prevent the phenomenon of
squatting and sleeping under bridges.
“We want the
pilgrims to come to Saudi Arabia in dignity and respect and to go
back home also with dignity and respect. Serving the guests of God
is an honor in which we take great pride,” he said.
urged Hajis to abide by the Kingdom’s rules and regulations and
warned that any violation or illegal conduct will be sternly dealt
with. “We will not tolerate any action that might undermine the
sanctity of the pilgrimage or mar this great gathering of Muslims,”
Prince Khaled said
the shuttle service for pilgrims, taking 300,000 every hour, the
5-level Jamrat Bridge, which cost more than SR4.4 billion, and the
expansion of the Masaa area (where pilgrims do Saie between Safa and
Marwah), all contributed to an accident-free Haj.
of vehicles with a capacity less than 25 passengers from entering
Makkah and the completion of the Haj terminals at King Abdulaziz
International Airport in Jeddah, which now enables pilgrims to leave
for Makkah or Madinah one hour after their arrival, also helped in
ensuring smooth Haj, the prince said.
spoke at length about the development projects currently under way
in Makkah and the holy sites to further facilitate the performance
He said they
included, among others; the monorail which will operate at 37
percent of its capacity next year and full capacity the year after;
King Abdullah’s expansion of the Grand Mosque which will be
completed in the coming years and the development of the central
area around the Haram.
The prince said
the holy sites monorail, costing SR6.7 billion, will be linked to
the project of the Two Holy Mosques’ train, on which work has
already started, to provide a network of trains in Makkah, Madinah,
Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
He noted that the
number of service cars in the holy sites reached more than 18,000
and this is a large number that should be reduced in the following
thanked all government and private establishments that worked during
Haj and said massive cleaning operations is now under way in the
With the Haj
season practically ended, following the third day of stoning ritual,
most of the pilgrims left Mina. However, some pilgrims stayed back
in the tent city to repeat the ritual for the fourth day.
Barring a few
minor incidents at several points in Jamrat area Sunday’s stoning
ritual passed off peacefully. Since most of the pilgrims leave Mina
after the third day of stoning, they were in a hurry to perform this
rite and leave quickly.
were seen throughout the day when security forces insisted that
pilgrims leave their bags behind before proceeding to perform the
stoning ritual. Some pilgrims, however, refused to listen. They
tried in vain to hold on to their belongings.
“All my documents
are in my bag. How can I just leave it here? How am I going to find
my bag again?” said Shabana Iqbal, a South Asian pilgrim who refused
to move on without her luggage.
explained to her that the rules had been made for her safety and
that of all other pilgrims. “Perform the stoning and then come back
to get your baggage. Nobody is going to take it,” they said.
Abdul Wahab Al-Shamri,
a police officer admitted that pilgrims were frustrated. “But we
have very strict instructions not to allow any baggage onto the
At the smaller
Jamrat a National Guard officer fell down and was trampled by the
crowd. Security men rushed to his rescue and he was shifted to an
The third and the
most crucial day of the stoning passed peacefully in general.
“Everything went according to plan and we have had no untoward
incident at the Jamrat,” said an Interior Ministry spokesman.
were excellent and great care was taken to avoid the massing of
pilgrims on the Jamrat Bridge which has been a scene of tragedy on
numerous occasions in the past,” an Interior Ministry statement
hovered constantly overhead to monitor the huge crowds; they were
assisted by hundreds of high-tech cameras, all connected to a
control room run by security authorities.
Pakistani Haj missions described Sunday’s stoning ritual as
extraordinarily smooth. They welcomed the security crackdown on the
carrying of luggage to Jamrat.
Director of Haj, Behrullah Hazarvi, said the arrangements were
“I thank Custodian
of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on behalf of the government of
Pakistan, for ensuring best available services to the guests of
Allah. Most of our pilgrims followed the Jamrat time schedule and
had no difficulties,” Hazarvi said.
inputs from Atab News)