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Deputy Minister of Hajj to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Rejects Politicization of Holy Rituals

Deputy Minister of Hajj to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Rejects Politicization of Holy Rituals

Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 - 06:30
Muslim worshipers circumambulate around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on August 17, 2018. (AFP)
Jeddah – Saeed al-Abyad
Saudi deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdul Fattah Mashat stressed that the Kingdom rejects the politicization of the holy rituals, while adding that it has never barred any nationalities from performing them.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the best evidence to counter claims of politicization are demonstrated in the efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia to facilitate the pilgrims’ performance of the rituals.

“Saudi Arabia has always rejected the politicization of the Hajj,” he reiterated.

“It has also never barred and will never bar any nationality from traveling to the Kingdom to perform the Hajj and Umrah,” he added.

The efforts exerted by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, embody the pioneering role played by Saudi Arabia in housing the two holy mosques and servicing the pilgrims, he stated.

Asked if pilgrims from Qatar had arrived in the Kingdom to perform this year’s annual rituals, Mashat replied: “Saudi Arabia has provided the easiest of facilitations to host our brothers from Qatar. There are no obstacles standing in their way.”

This stems from its firm principles to facilitate the arrival of Muslims from all over the world to perform the Hajj and Umrah, he added.

The Qatari travelers are welcomed as soon as they arrive at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, he continued.

Asked if pilgrims from Iran had arrived to perform the holy rituals, he said: “The government stresses that Muslims from all over the world are welcome at any time and it provides them with all of the necessary support.”

Commenting on preparations for this year’s Hajj, Mashat said that pilgrims are accompanied every step of the way from the moment they arrive in the Kingdom until their safe return back home.

Modern technologies have been developed to make their journey as smooth as possible, he remarked.

Among the new services is the Maqam electronic portal that allows worshipers to register for the Umrah from countries that do not have a foreign agent, he explained.

The platform therefore, acts as a virtual foreign agent through which the worshiper can choose from a number of service packages provided by the Saudi Umrah companies.

So far, some 6 million worshipers have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah. The majority of the arrivals have come from Pakistan, he revealed.

The services provided to the Umrah performers is electronically monitored through a dedicated platform. The Kingdom has also provided them with guidance centers that are distributed throughout the holy cities of Makkah and Madina.

Addressing the Hajj pilgrimage, Mashat said that registration for internal pilgrims began on Monday through a dedicated electronic platform. The first phase of registration introduces the pilgrims to the services provided by some 190 Hajj companies. The second phase is dedicated to issuing Hajj permits.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is working on drafting strategies and plans in partnership with concerned authorities to provide better services to the worshipers in line with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed’s directives, he continued.

These plans will ultimately realize the Kingdom’s goal to accommodate more than 30 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims as set by its Vision 2030, he added.

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