Fingerprinting to keep away lawbreakers from Haj

450Pilgrims with criminal records or who were deported last Haj will be caught out by a new fingerprinting system upon arrival and sent back home, according to the Passport Department.

“Personnel have been trained and are ready to cope with the influx of pilgrims coming into the Kingdom by land, sea and air routes,” said Gen. Ayed Al-Harbi, Passport Department commander for Haj Affairs.

“Sophisticated systems will ensure that there are no illegal pilgrims this year,” he said.

“The implementation of the fingerprinting system over the past two years has led to significant success in ensuring that pilgrims do not stay beyond their visas. In fact, there has been a decline in the number of pilgrims who overstay after they have completed their pilgrimage compared with previous years, according to statistics.”

Al-Habri refuted claims that pilgrims queue up for hours to get their paperwork stamped, insisting that there is a maximum waiting time of two minutes a head.

“We have trained personnel and state-of-the-art systems to ensure speed and accuracy,” he said.

“Our arrival halls can accommodate hundreds of pilgrims at a time. Few bogus Haj groups have arrived from abroad with the exception of a few from neighboring Gulf states thanks to the new biometric system.”

He added: “In addition, pilgrims are all treated equally at airport counters.” Al-Harbi reiterated that the department was keen on intensifying its media campaign to create awareness about regulations.

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