participated in the Hajj 2013/1434
Mina, 12 Dhu al-Hijjah 1434 / October 17, 2013
According to Saudi authorities, 1,98 million pilgrims
The pilgrims came from abroad reached 1.38 million,
Khaled declares Haj an ‘overwhelming success’
This year’s Haj was an overwhelming success in terms of healthcare provision, security operations and traffic plans, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal said here Thursday at a press conference.
He was relaxed and cheerful as he described this year’s pilgrimage as a milestone in the history of the Central Haj Committee. He is the chairman of the committee.
His demeanor was in sharp contrast to last year’s press briefing when he had expressed his disappointment at not being able to stop hundreds of thousands of undocumented pilgrims from entering the holy sites.
He joked with journalists at times during the press conference. “Were you able to perform Haj?” he asked them. He smiled when many replied that they could not do so because they did not have Haj permits.
“All government institutions, security forces, volunteers, pilgrim establishments and men on the ground worked as one team to ensure the success of this year’s Haj,” he said. “You can call this a turning point,” he said, and praised Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif.
He said the country’s leadership and its people were determined to improve Haj services.
“It is our quest to build and add to all these achievements, to make Haj better and better every year until we meet the expectations of our people and the entire Muslim world,” he said. “God willing, each year will be better than the previous one,” he said.
Prince Khaled had special praise for the security forces.
“They have done a good job of keeping unregistered pilgrims out,” he said.
“To all those who were involved in the success of this year’s Haj, you have made us proud,” he said.
In response to a question from Arab News about the organizational challenges faced by the government this year, he said he would have to study the reports submitted to the Central Haj Committee. He would then identify the “gray areas” and steps needed to improve services.
He said transport would improve significantly with the introduction of the Haj train from Makkah to Mina, which is currently being completed. He said it would be a “big relief” to have thousands of pilgrims shuttle between Makkah and Mina by train.
He said pilgrims and goods flowed smoothly between the holy sites because of the reduced quota this year and a reduction in illegal pilgrims because of government's security crackdown.
Prince Khaled said he did not want to discuss next year’s Haj quota until he studies the reports of the Central Haj Committee.
He said the government would provide better services if it controlled the number of pilgrims arriving every year.
Departing Hajis to get copies of Qur’an
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs will distribute copies of the holy Qur’an in Arabic and other translations to departing pilgrims as a gift from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Sheikh Talal bin Ahmad Al-Aqeel, adviser to the Minister of Islamic Affairs and chairman of the committee of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, said a plan had been approved for distributing copies of the holy Qur’an to departing pilgrims.
In a statement on Wednesday, he said there is no greater gift for the guests of God than the holy Qur’an. Around 1,350,000 copies in Arabic and translations of other languages are distributed every year.
The copies include the regular Qur’an, Al-Jwami’ Qur’an for the elderly, a Qur’an for Pakistani nationals, Al-Warsh which targets Al-Maghrib Al-Arabi, and the interpretation of the Qur’an in Urdu, Hosa, English, French, Turkish, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Spanish, Milbari, Russian, German and Albanian languages.
Al-Aqeel said an operational team has been deployed at the Kingdom’s various ports to ensure round-the-clock distribution of the “Haj gift.”
The gift which is published by the Publication and Scientific Research Agency includes the holy Qur’an, four books, a CD and a tape that has lectures, which deals with several issues. It publishes religion sciences and explains the rules of Islam and contributes to the spread of Islamic directions, and information that raises the awareness of Islamic culture, and knowledge of Shariah rules.
These gifts are distributed among the Hajis in 55 centers across the Kingdom with 1,000 employees.
Haj MERS-free: Al-Rabeeah
MINA — While the world was watching with bated breath for any impact of MERS virus on the nearly two million pilgrims this year, the Kingdom declared that the Haj season was absolutely free from any epidemic or contagious disease.
“Not a single case (of MERS) was detected,” Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah told reporters here as pilgrims started leaving the Mina valley Thursday after stoning the devil on the third day of the annual Haj.
Although the Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, comes to a close officially on Friday, pilgrims are allowed to leave a day early after taking part in the stoning of the devil ritual.
Al-Rabeeah’s press conference was attended by local and world media representatives, top Ministry of Health officials, senior experts of World Health Organization and the Center of Disease Control in US.
“With all praises and gratitude to Allah, it is a great pleasure to announce that the Haj was free from any epidemic or quarantinable diseases,” Al-Rabeeah said.
He said this announcement was based on a host of measures taken by the Saudi government, reports received from various health committees, statistical data, and information generated from field application of the precautionary instruction and guidelines set forth by his ministry.
Measures cited by the minister, on which the announcement was made, included the policies formulated by the national committee for infectious disease on prevention and dealing with infectious diseases, levels of emergency preparedness to deal with all diseases in particular MERS virus, and application of necessary measures to intensify early epidemiological surveillance.
Al-Rabeeah pledged that the Kingdom would continue to follow the health status of pilgrims and visitors, including the results of laboratories for infectious diseases, until the last pilgrim returns to his home country.
Addressing the media, WHO representatives Ezaddin Muhaisini thanked the Saudi government for the enormous efforts made, and professional measures taken, to ensure safety of the pilgrims.
“With all transparency, we were given the opportunity to see for ourselves the powerful efforts made by the Ministry of Health to offer health care services to the pilgrims from all nationalities,” he said.