17,000 Turks performed umrah with fake cards in 2017: Report
November 08 2017
ANKARA : Some 17,000 Turks performed umrah with fake cards in 2017, according to statistics from Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).
While Diyanet said some 325,000 people performed umrah in 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry announced the number of Turks as 342,000.
After comparing the numbers, authorities concluded that 17,000 people conducted umrah with fake or illegal “Diyanet Umrah Cards,” daily Habertürk reported on Nov. 8.
According to Association of Hajj and Umrah Travel Agencies head Mehmet Uzuner, Diyanet lost at least 3 million Turkish Liras because of the 17,000 unregistered visits and there is tax evasion worth 170,000 liras.
Uzuner also said Turks with fake Diyanet cards can suffer from the lack of insurance in cases of accidents, sicknesses or deaths.
The umrah is a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj. It is sometimes called the “minor pilgrimage” or “lesser pilgrimage,” whereas the Hajj is the “major” pilgrimage and is compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. The umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended in Islam.
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Victims of Mecca crane collapse entrust realization of compensation promise to King Salman
The victims of the 2015 crane collapse in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, are doubtful over receiving the compensation they were promised by the kingdom’s authorities after reportedly learning that a Mecca court ruled that the company that operated the crane was not responsible for the incident.
October 26, 2017
The Jakarta Post - The victims of the 2015 crane collapse in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, are doubtful over receiving the compensation they were promised by the kingdom’s authorities after reportedly learning that a Mecca court ruled that the company that operated the crane was not responsible for the incident.
“I read in several media outlets today [Wednesday] that the Mecca court ruled on Tuesday that the construction company that operated the crane was not guilty in the incident; hence, it freed the company from any compensation payment obligations. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I cannot do anything,” Subandi bin Ahmad Sarbini, 51, a victim from Maros regency, South Sulawesi, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
First Adj. Insp. Subandi of the Maros Police said he was optimistic at first that 1 million riyal (US$267,000) in compensation funds promised by the Saudi Arabian government for families of the deceased and paralyzed victims, and 500,000 riyal for those that suffered injuries that were less severe, would be immediately distributed following the visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in March.
Moreover, Subandi said, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Indonesia, Osama bin Mohammed Abdullah Al Shuaibi, had stated on Aug. 30 that the funds were available and ready to be disbursed.
“I was optimistic to hear his statement but, as of today, there was no sign of compensation. Instead, the Mecca court freed the construction company from its responsibilities,” said Subandi.
He said he entrusted the final decision over whether funds would be disbursed to King Salman.
“A king must be wise. It was him who had promised to provide compensation and financial aid for the crane victims. I leave the matter to him,” he said.
Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organisation, Hamid Mohammadi said yesterday that citizens of his country will not participate in the performance of Umrah this year, citing political reasons and the lack of the necessary arrangements.
“The Iranians cannot be sent to perform the Umrah ritual this year because of the lack of political communication between Tehran and Riyadh,” Mohammadi was quoted as saying.
“The resumption of Iranians’ participation in the performance of Umrah needs special mechanisms,” he added.
Discussions will take place between Iran and Saudi Arabia regarding the resumption of performing the Islamic rite.
The official pointed out that the negotiations with Saudi Arabia this year dealt only with the Hajj season and did not discuss the performance of Umrah.
“There is serious planning for the next pilgrimage and preparations are underway for negotiations now,” he added.
Artificially intelligent algorithms to estimate Tawaf crowds at the Grand Mosque in Makkah
Tuesday 5 December 2017
JEDDAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque said it applies simulation programs to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the mataf courtyard and on the upper floors, the roof and Al-Masaa at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The director of crowd management at the Grand Mosque, Fares bin Fayez Mulla, told Arab News that the Presidency is focused on the study and management of crowds and providing safety, convenience and ease of movement, and that the direction and distribution of densities is the responsibility of the security authorities.
“The body works with its partners in the security, government and academic agencies to provide the best services for all facilities and to follow the flow of crowds in the mataf courtyard and on the upper floors, the roof and Al-Masaa of all its floors with the latest technology and equipment,” he said.
Mulla also said: “Crowds management is available throughout the year to measure and study densities through field teams in all places at the specified times. It also collects information in order to analyze and find appropriate solutions and present them to officials to make the appropriate decisions.”
He pointed out that monitoring observations has now became better. The coming years will see an increase in the number of pilgrims to the Holy Mosque.
Mulla explained that the most prominent observations that were monitored are the misconduct of some pilgrims in not following the guidelines, and entering the wrong way in some entrances, corridors and doors despite the existence of signs in different languages throughout the Holy Mosque.
However, according to Mulla, repeated observations are being considered by specialists to seek solutions and alternatives through advanced systems and programs.
He also said that the capacity of the mataf courtyard along with its floors is 107,000 performers of circumambulation per hour, while the capacity of the mataf courtyard alone is 30,000 per hour, other than the floors.
Akram Jan, a crowd expert, said that calculations of densities and crowds in the mataf courtyard can be dealt with by calculating squares, which are digital virtual regions with specific human calculations; if filled, they indicate a certain density.
He explained that this method is used in the measurement of crowd densities in large squares in Europe to a high degree of accuracy. Through these measurements, observers and analysts can anticipate the nature of the crowds.
After 25 years, imam of Prophet’s Mosque back to original mihrab
Sunday 10 December 2017
MADINAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of Two Holy Mosques has prepared the place for greeting the Prophet (peace be upon him) by asking the imam to go back to the Mihrab of the Prophet, the presidency announced on its website.
Friday prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque witnessed the return of the imam to the mihrab in the Prophet’s Mosque.
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Biaijan led Friday prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque.
The presidency has already prepared the pathway leading to the place for greeting the Prophet and his two companions to allow visitors to greet the Prophet without crowding and harassment, in light of the density of worshippers recently witnessed by the mosque. This comes in line with directives of the leadership to allow visitors perform prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque and easily and comfortably greet the Prophet and His companions.
Sources said the directives were issued saying that that leading worshippers in the Prophet’s Mosque during Friday prayers, the two Eids, Taraweeh, and midnight prayers will be held in the old mihrab of the Prophet’s Mosque.
The sources said the reason behind the decision was to avoid the occurrence of stampeding during the visit of the tomb of the Prophet and his two companions Abu Bakr and Omar.
Leading worshippers from the Prophet’s Mihrab ceased 25 years ago. Sheikh Ali Al-Huzaifi was the last imam who led prayers from the Prophet’s Mihrab in 1414H.
Haj ministry emphasizing upon E-visa from next Haj
Deputy Minister for Haj and Umrah Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat
December 18, 2017
JEDDAH — The Kingdom is all set to implement E-Haj visa across the globe from this year’s Haj as it intends to emphasize upon compliance with electronic visa system with foreign Haj missions in upcoming Haj agreements.
A high-level meeting was held by Haj Ministry on Sunday to discuss the implementation strategy in this regard as Kingdom is keen to integrated Haj visa system to ensure comfortable and hassle free pilgrimage.
“We want to ensure comfortable stay of pilgrims during their pilgrimage in Kingdom starting from embarkation to visits of holy sites, performing rituals and up to return to home,” said Deputy Minister for Haj and Umrah Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat.
He said that e-visa is linked and integrated by various government agencies and would also enable the ministry to track the services provided to pilgrims. The deputy minister said, “We will emphasize upon the adoption of the electronic visa system during the agreements.”
The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has successfully implemented the E-Haj visa system with Malaysia, India and Indonesia and some other countries.
The E-visa is not stuck on the passport but is in a separate A-4 size page format with all particulars of pilgrims and a barcode system that enables authorities to check the pilgrim movement starting from their arrival till departure and also all stake holders, including foreign Haj missions.
To avoid delay in immigration procedures upon arrival, the Kingdom is also linking the electronic visa system to complete the immigration procedure for Haj pilgrims at their embarkation points in home countries, which was proven successful in some countries.
Malaysian pilgrims were used as a test case for the Proof of Concept (POC) system for pre-clearance prior their departure for Kingdom.
India and Malaysia, both considered as pioneer in IT, have successfully implemented the E-Haj system.
The successful implementation of electronic visa for Umrah has also brought about a leap change in Umrah pilgrims’ ease as it has facilitated hassle free and speedy visa issuance.
With the new electronic visa system, pilgrim data and images will be scanned and their entire itinerary, involved with all stake holders, is just fingertip away.
According to Haj Ministry officials the new system helped streamline internal transportation and grouping of pilgrims last Haj.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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