Rates of camps at holy sites to be reduced

488Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar said his ministry will reduce occupancy rates of camps at the holy sites from 85 percent to 75 percent with the aim to reduce the cost of the annual pilgrimage.

Hajar revealed that the ministry is considering the re-evaluation of Haj companies and allowing them to reduce the number of their branches. This, according to the ministry, will suit the pilgrims they will serve.

Meanwhile, Hatem Qadi, ministry’s spokesman, confirmed that the low cost Haj procedures have been completed with 20,500 bookings, before the end of the 48-hour extension.

He said the low cost Haj accommodates around 41,000 pilgrims and the duties are shared between the ministry and Haj establishments.

The ministry also defined the prices of camps on a priority basis starting from SR5,000 for the most favored locations to as low as SR2,500.

Qadi said the ministry has allocated 53 camps to low cost Haj services distributed among 116 establishments. Pilgrims applying for the low cost Haj have to fulfill certain conditions, including not having performed Haj during the past five years; be over 15 years old; and women should be accompanied by a guardian. In addition, there should be a limit of 10 applicants on a single visit to the electronic portal.

The guide to the electronic Haj system clearly states that Haj permits will only be issued to those registered in the system. Secondly, all permits should be printed to verify their accuracy by relevant authorities. All the trips should be documented and passengers should be registered to verify the accuracy of the journey and passenger permits at checkpoints.

An applicant cannot cancel an issued permit. If he wishes to do so, he will have to address relevant authorities. Buses and cars will only be allowed entry if they have a permit which will be linked automatically with the system. Passengers will also be required to present their identification documents (the national ID for citizens, and the residency visa for expatriates).

Meanwhile, the General Cars Syndicate (GCS) said it will import 120,000 vehicles, which conform to international specifications to transport domestic pilgrims.

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