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Jan 6, 2017
SAUDI ARABIA has decided to lift from this year the reduction in the quota of Haj pilgrims imposed five years ago. It said the higher authorities approved a proposal by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior who is also chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, to restore the pilgrimage quota that existed prior to the cuts.
Minister of Haj and Umrah on Thursday thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad, and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for lifting the reduction in the quota of both domestic and foreign pilgrims. He said that the concerned authorities have made preparations to receive the additional number of pilgrims for the forthcoming Haj. Bantan said this while receiving heads of Haj delegations from Arab and Islamic countries at his office in Jeddah.
The authorities imposed a 20 percent cut in the quota for foreign pilgrims coming from each country while the number of people allowed to perform Haj within the Kingdom was reduced by 50 percent to ensure the safety of pilgrims during the largest ever expansion in the history of the Grand Mosque, which is nearing completion, as well as the expansion of mataf (circumambulating area around the Holy Kaba) and massive projects at the Holy Sites.
Crown Prince Muhammad asked all concerned departments to get ready to receive a larger number of pilgrims for the upcoming Haj. He instructed to give the Haj missions opportunity to increase the number of pilgrims so as to restore the quota in a phased manner. The Crown Prince said that the exact number of pilgrims coming from each country will be decided by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah. However, he assured that the decided quota for every country will remain intact. Under the quota system that came into effect decades ago, a country is allowed to send only one Haj pilgrim for every 1,000 Muslim citizens.
A number of Haj missions in Jeddah congratulated the Saudi leadership for restoring the Haj quota. Speaking to Saudi Gazette, Indian Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh welcomed the decision, saying that it is a great move. “The Indian Haj Committee could accommodate only one fourth of the applicants after the quota cut. “The reduced quota for pilgrims under the Haj Committee was 100,020 but the number of applicants exceeded 400,000 last year. A total of 136,020 Indian pilgrims performed Haj during the last five years after imposition of a cut in quota in 2012, and they included 100,020 under Haj Committee and 36,000 who come through private tour operators,” he said. India’s quota for Haj-2012 was 170,000, but later the year the government reduced the quota by 20 percent.
Sheikh also said that launching of mobile app for Haj in India will be a further boost in streamlining the Haj operation.
“The app will complement with the integrated mobile app launched by the Jeddah Haj mission,” he said.
The Indian Haj Mission was the first foreign mission in the Kingdom to come up with an innovative Global Positioning System (GPS) application during the Haj of 2014.
India’s Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi launched at India’s Haj House in Mumbai last Monday the mobile application which will provide information and facilitate e-payments for the pilgrimage.
“It is for the first time that Haj application process is going to be digital,” Naqvi said. Applying for Haj, enquiry and information, news and updates and e-payment are the main features of the app. The application can be made directly on the app. Five adults and two infants can apply as a group.
Jan 12, 2017
JEDDAH — Iran, which boycotted last year’s Haj after refusing to sign an agreement organizing the fifth pillar of Islam, has been invited to send its pilgrims to perform Haj this year.
Iranian officials acknowledged the receipt of the invitation letter and said they were willing to discuss all Haj-related issues with the Kingdom.
A source said the Kingdom reiterated that it welcomes all Haj and Umrah pilgrims regardless of their race or religious sects. He said that Haj regulations equally apply to all pilgrims, including Iranians, without any disparities.
The source said the ministry has sent similar letters to its counterparts in 80 countries asking them to send their representatives to the Kingdom to discuss Haj arrangements for their pilgrims.
Iran last year refused to sign the document on the organization of Haj and asked that its pilgrims be allowed to organize gatherings and demonstrations which the Kingdom totally refused. Iran subsequently prevented its more than 60,000 pilgrims from proceeding to the Kingdom for Haj.
However, more than 700 Iranians living in the US, Europe and other countries came for Haj last year and were warmly welcomed by Saudi officials.
Sunday, 11 December 2016
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia announced a new development project to build in place automatic glass doors on the walls of the third premises expansion to connect new buildings and the ones overlooking the northern side of the mataf (circumnavigation) area.
Director of the Grand Mosque’s Doors’ Department Mohammed Batti said that the skillfully decorated doors will effectively contribute in administrating and controlling the mass worshippers and pilgrims particularly during peak times, according to Makkah newspaper.
Adding that the doors, which will be utilized to organize the entry and exit of the pilgrims between the third expansion and the mataf area, will be operated in line with the implemented crowd management plans.
Door for the extensions of the Holy Mosque in Mecca. Glass door leaves, weighing tonnes, are framed by profiles made of duplex steel and gilded.
Jan 12, 2017
JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia and India signed the Annual Bilateral Haj Agreement for Haj 2017 here on Wednesday.
The Indian delegation was led by Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and the Saudi delegation was led by Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Bantan.
Naqvi expressed gratitude to the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah for increasing the quota of Indian Haj pilgrims from 136,020 to 170,025 for Haj 2017.
During the discussion with the Saudi delegation, the Indian minister conveyed appreciation for the Haj arrangements for the Haj 2016 and assured full cooperation for the success of the Haj 2017.
The meeting was attended by Ambassador of India Ahmad Javed, Consul General of India Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs Jan-e-Alam, Deputy Consul General and Consul(Haj) Mohd. Shahid Alam, and Deputy Secretary, MOMA, Aftab Alam.
Member of Parliament and Chairman of Haj Committee of India (HCOI) Choudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser; Chief Executive Officer, HCOI, Ataur Rahman; General Manager, Air India, Rajneesh Duggal; and a representative from Private Tour Operators were also present during the signing of the Bilateral Haj Agreement 2017.
Jabal al Rahmah
(Jabal Arafat or Mountain of Mercy)
New staircase built - Hajj 2016
Jan 17, 2017
MADINAH — As many as 1,444,765 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom since the start of the Umrah season early November, local daily Al-Watan reported on Monday quoting the branch of the Haj and Umrah Ministry in Madinah.
The ministry said that a total of 1,350,559 pilgrims arrived by air while 90,285 by land and 3,921 by sea.
According to the ministry, Pakistanis constitute about 30.61 percent of the pilgrims who are visiting Madinah followed by Indonesians (17.91 percent), Indians (11.81 percent) and Malaysians (8.21 percent).
Undersecretary of the ministry Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al-Bijawi said since the start of the season the ministry has been making intensive tours of government and private establishments offering Haj services to make sure that pilgrims are properly served.
30 January 2017
Foster + Partners’ competition winning scheme for a new luxury hotel and serviced apartments in the heart of Makkah has been revealed. Inspired by traditional Arab architecture, it’s design reinterprets the traditional dense building clusters, creating a new contemporary vernacular that respects its sacred location. Following the mountainous terrain, its cascading vertical elements form a new topography. The new mixed-use development will create a new gateway along the route to the Grand Mosque for pilgrims from the world over.
Luke Fox, Head of Studio and Senior Executive Partner, Foster + Partners who attended the ceremony said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the competition. Makkah is one of the most unique cities in the world. As the home of the Holy Kaaba - the holiest site in Islam - it presents a special challenge and honour for any developer and architect. Our design sets out to create an innovative building form that will be respectful to the scale and importance of the Grand Mosque.”
The scheme addresses the shortage of accommodation in Makkah in response to the rapid growth in visitor numbers. Occupying a large portion of the site, the orientation of all rooms and apartments maximise and optimise views towards the Holy Kaaba – the main focal point for every visitor. Generated from the inside-out, its interiors design is an antidote to the lack of identity that typical generic hotel rooms suffer from. Every room has a dedicated space for private prayer and contemplation that provides direct views to the Grand Mosque and Holy Kaaba.
Located on the axis between the new Haramain High-speed Rail Station and the Grand Mosque, the site also forms a key part of the pilgrims’ journey towards the Holy Kaaba. A dramatic pedestrian ramp integrated with the new topography will take the pilgrims through naturally lit spaces, adding to the special experience of visiting the Grand Mosque.
Fox added: “Our endeavour has been to make the experience special and appropriate to its unique location. The design follows a philosophy of ‘luxury with humility’ with an understated elegance throughout the development. On behalf of all the design team I would like to thank Jabal Omar Development Company for choosing to work with us. We are incredibly eager to begin work on the next stage, and look forward to a successful collaboration.”
Monday 20 February 2017
RIYADH: A proposal by the Shoura Council member Ata Al-Subaiti suggesting the reduction of the period between the first and second call to prayer to five minutes in malls mosques is still being studied by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
Al-Subaiti said that the reduction of time between the first and second call to prayer has multiple considerations. First, in Islam, there is no specific period of time between the two calls to prayer. However, praying on time is better, according to the fatwa by of the late Islamic scholar Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen, stressing that each country determines the time based on its people’s interests. Second, it enables workers in malls and commercial complexes to pray in congregation, taking into account the interests of shoppers and investors.
The Shoura member referred to the short time between the two calls to prayer in the Grand Mosque.
He pointed out that the shops deliberately lock stores a considerable time before the second call to prayer, which could undermine the interests of citizens for over one and a half hour a day, a time considered very important for a country that is still in its first stages in the course of development.
Feb 8, 2017
NEW DELHI — Haj is one of the most complex organizational tasks undertaken by Government of India outside its borders. Although a five-day religious congregation, it is virtually a year-long managerial exercise. Indian Haj pilgrims who constitute one of the largest national groups perform Haj through two streams — the Haj Committee of India (HCOI), and registered Private Tour Operators (PTOs). HCOI established under the Haj Committee Act 2002 is responsible for making the arrangements for pilgrims performing Haj through them. Consulate General of India, Jeddah coordinates all arrangements for the HCOI pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. The Haj quota for India fixed by the Saudi Arabian government was reduced by 20% to 136,020 after Haj 2013. In 2016, 135,902 pilgrims performed Haj out of which 99,902 went through HCOI and 36,000 through PTOs. The Haj quota has been restored to 170,025 for Haj 2017.
The Supreme Court in its judgment dated April 16, 2013, examined some of the major issues concerning the Haj policy of the government of India and approved the Haj Policy 2013-17 for the Haj Committee of India (HCOI) and policy for Private Tour Operators (PTOs) for Haj 2013-17. While approving the Haj Policy for HCOI the court inter alia directed “the final policies framed shall remain valid and operative for a period of five years upto Haj 2017 and may be amended only in case of any change in the arrangements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as per the agreement entered into between the two countries every year. The next five years policy will be similarly framed, keeping in view any problems that might have been encountered in following the previous policy and taking into account any improvements, innovations and technological advances in order to add content and quality to the succeeding policy and to make it perform better than the previous policy.”
Similarly policy for Private Tour Operators for Haj 2013-2017 was approved with the direction that “it shall remain valid for five years and shall not be questioned before any court or authority.” Thus the current policies are in force till Haj 2017. Keeping in view directions of the court the crucial importance of the policy in facilitating comfortable travel and stay of Haj pilgrims, it is expedient to review the said policies with a view to further improve the arrangements for the benefit of the intending Haj pilgrims to cover the period 2018-2022. Therefore, in order to examine all aspects relevant to the formulation of a new policy to be applicable from Haj 2018 onwards, a committee of knowledgeable people enjoying public confidence is constituted with the following composition: Afzal Amanullah, IAS, Retd. former secretary to govt. of India and ex CGI, Jeddah – convener, Justice S.S. Parkar, retired judge of Bombay High Court, Qaiser Shamim, IRS (retired), former chairman, Haj Committee of India, Kamal Faruqui, noted chartered accountant and Muslim scholar, Michael Mascarenhas, retired CMD Air India and J. Alam, joint secretary, in-charge of Haj, Ministry of Minority Affairs – member secretary.
The committee shall be required to consult all sections of stakeholders, including travel trade. The deputy secretary, Haj Division shall assist the committee in its work and the Haj Division of the ministry will provide secretarial assistance to the committee. The expenses on the travel, accommodation, meetings and other arrangements for the committee shall be borne by the Haj Committee of India. The committee will submit its report to the Ministry of Minority Affairs within three months of its constitution.
Feb 26, 2017
MADINAH — A number of specialists have expressed their opposition to the Shoura Council’s proposal of building an exclusive overpass for female visitors in the Prophet’s Mosque. The idea was mooted to enable them to transit from the eastern side of the mosque to the Rawdah without mixing with male visitors, according to a report in Al-Madina newspaper.
The Rawdah in the Prophet’s Mosque is a very special but small area that extends from the sacred chamber that houses the tombs of the Prophet and two of his companions to his pulpit. Pilgrims attempt to visit the area to pray because of a tradition that says supplications uttered there are never rejected.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The area between my house and my pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise.”
The specialists, who have been on previous committees to study the current situation of women visiting the Rawdah at the mosque, were of the view that the Shoura was not the competent authority to discuss such a proposal, but recommendations should be sent to those who can implement these proposals. They also noted that the proposed overpass is “unrealistic” and does not serve the purpose of women visiting the Prophet’s Mosque. It does not fit with the reality of the Prophet’s Mosque and the Rawdah, they said.
Shoura member Abbas Hadi, who made the suggestion, defended the proposal, saying that the interim corridor causes a host of problems, while the proposal contributes to creating a link between the eastern prayer area and the Rawdah without causing inconvenience to the worshippers.
Fareed Al-Maimani, member in previous committees to study visits of men and women to the Rawdah, said that the Shoura member’s proposal does not fit into the scheme of the Rawdah’s structure, as well as the current expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque, and it is not easy to implement.
He added that there are a lot of opinions and studies that can be done for an alternative to the overpass and that the proposal does not serve the spirituality of the Rawdah.
Anas Sairafi, who prepared a previous study for the development of solutions for women visiting the Rawdah, explained that any additional construction within the Prophet’s Mosque or the Rawdah would change its parameters.
In addition, he said the proposed change could violate the sanctity of the Rawdah.
He added that the solutions are possible without creating chaos in the Prophet’s Mosque, including regulatory solutions and the allocation of specific times for visiting the Rawdah, making it fully accessible to women.
Hadi said his proposal was based on realistic observations to the current visitors’ situation. He said currently a number of measures are needed to allow women to visit the Rawdah, including temporary barriers between the eastern wing for women and the Rawdah.
“The barriers require the evacuation of worshippers and the consequent evacuation of the site. Communication with worshippers become difficult as some of them cannot understand Arabic and do not know of the measures being put in place,” said Hadi.
Miqat Mosque Expansion Project, Madinah
Expansion of Miqat Mosque new estimates a total area of 5 times
current area inclusive of all services with major pedestrian and Garnet Valley
توسعة مسجد الميقات الجديد وتقدر مساحته الاجمالية 5 اضعاف
المساحه الحالية شامله لكافة الخدمات مع كبري مشاة على وادي العقيق
« I don't know if this model is approved »
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.