Umrah pilgrims from abroad are pouring into the Kingdom, with the Ministry of Haj declaring that there has been a significant 14 percent increase in foreign pilgrims visiting Madinah already this season as compared to last year, with Pakistan accounting for the biggest chunk of pilgrims.
Revealing this, Ali Al-Ghamdi of the Haj Ministry said about two million pilgrims had already visited Madinah during the current season. After Pakistan, Indonesians, Iranians and Indians accounted for the most number of pilgrims in that order, he said.
The ministry was constantly monitoring the facilities and services provided to pilgrims. It had instructed Umrah companies to make special provisions for the elderly and physically weak pilgrims, he said.
The ministry was also conducting inspections of transport and housing facilities for pilgrims in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah to ensure their safety besides putting in place measures to prevent foreign middlemen from dealing in these two vital sectors, he said.
Al-Ghamdi said that the ministry’s inspectors had booked 39 people for involvement in pilgrims’ housing that is to be dealt with only by Saudi citizens.
The ministry had, last year, carried out 1,948 inspection visits and 552 raids to check housing services.
The official said the ministry was also conducting inspection of pilgrims’ housing for compliance with safety standards. So far, it has carried out 372 visits and detected 152 violations of safety regulations in Makkah, he said, adding the ministry in Makkah region also inspected 9,009 housing units that had accommodated 1.3 million pilgrims last year.