The General Directorate of Passports says more than 1.5 million pilgrims travelled to the Kingdom by air, nearly 85,000 Muslims arrived via land borders and more than 16,000 via Saudi’s sea ports
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, August 16 (CIC) – The last of this year’s Hajj pilgrims travelling from abroad arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, bringing the number in attendance to more than 1.68 million, the Saudi General Directorate of Passports said.
“The arrival of pilgrims via the Kingdom’s land, sea and air ports is complete,” said an official statement issued by the General Directorate of Passports.
Officials representing the General Directorate of Passports said that pilgrims arriving after Thursday will still be welcomed, and as such expect the tally of attendees to grow in the following days.
Major General Sulaiman Al Yahya, the Director General of Passports, held a news conference in the port city of Jeddah, in which he put the total number of Hajj pilgrims who had arrived from abroad via air, land and sea ports until noon Thursday at 1,684,629 pilgrims. The majority of the pilgrims arrived by plane.
According to the Kingdom’s official accounting, 1,584,085 pilgrims travelled from abroad by air into the Kingdom, 84,381 pilgrims came via land crossings and 16,163 via Saudi sea ports.
This year’s Hajj, estimated to include approximately two million pilgrims, including those who reside in the Kingdom, is scheduled to start on Sunday, August 19 and conclude on Friday, August 24.
Major General Al Yahya stressed that the “wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence – may God protect them – is keen to facilitate the entry of pilgrims through all of the Kingdom’s land, sea and air ports.”
Al Yahya said that the General Directorate of Passports, under the direct supervision of Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, has provided qualified human resources and advanced technical equipment to ensure the speedy and accurate completion of arrival procedures for each pilgrim in record time.
During the press conference, Al Yahya additionally relayed that the General Directorate of Passports prepared for administrative committees to be stationed at the entrances of Makkah in the centers of Al Shmaisi, Al Taneem, Al- Bahita and Al- Kar. These committees will work throughout the pilgrimage to implement immediate sanctions against violators of Hajj instructions as per previously established regulations.
Key regulations include the strict forbiddance of the transport of pilgrims without a permit. A fine of 15 days imprisonment and 10,000 Saudi riyals for each pilgrim unlawfully transported will be levied against violators. If the regulation is breached a second time, violators will be fined 25,000 riyals for each pilgrim unlawfully transported and imprisoned for a period of two months. Upon a third violation, the fine will be 50,000 riyals for every pilgrim, with a six month jail sentence, and the confiscation of the vehicle used to transport pilgrims. Additionally, if the offender is an expatriate he will be deported once the sentence has been fulfilled and permanently barred from reentering the Kingdom.
According to Major General Al Yahya, the General Directorate of Passports is prepared for the second phase of its plan for the Hajj season to be unveiled in the coming days, when the pilgrims leave the Kingdom and return to their respective points of origin with God’s protection and care.
The Director General of Passports called on all pilgrims from outside the Kingdom to abide by the period specified for their departure after performing the pilgrimage, which is determined by their respective visa’s guidelines. Breaching these guidelines will subject those in violation to a penalty.