Saudi Gazette – As many as 188,747 people who attempted to enter Makkah without Haj permits were turned back from various check points, Director of Makkah Police Maj. Gen. Saeed Al-Qarni has announced.
He said 84,965 vehicles trying to illegally enter Makkah were stopped from entering the city. A total of 48 mini-buses carrying illegal pilgrims were confiscated.
Qarni said 22 fake Haj campaigns were uncovered during regular inspections.
He said that 109 security centers have been set up in areas around Makkah to prevent the entry of people intending to perform Haj illegally.
Meanwhile, a Haj grand symposium was inaugurated in Makkah on Sunday under the title “Pilgrimage: Today and in the past.”
In his opening speech, Minister of Haj and Umrah Muhammad Saleh Bentan said the symposium was aimed at deepening communications between scholars. “The Kingdom has always confirmed that Islam was a religion of tolerance, peace and moderation,” he said.
More than 200 Muslim scholars from Muslim countries all over the world and Muslim communities in Europe and America are participating in the annual event. Bentan asked the participants to enlighten their pilgrims about the correct methods of performing Haj rituals.
Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawki Alam appreciated the Kingdom’s efforts in the expansion of the Two Holy Mosques and in providing the pilgrims with tangible services to enable them perform Haj rites in ease, peace and comfort.
“What the Kingdom is doing for Islam and Muslims should be highly appreciated,” he added.
On the other hand, 14,000 out of 19,000 Yemeni pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom.
Yemeni Minister of Endowments and Guidance Fouad Omar Sheikh said the Kingdom has gracefully agreed to raise the quota of pilgrims from his country to 21,000.
“The Kingdom is hosting 1,500 additional Yemeni pilgrims who are not part of the Yemeni Haj mission,” he said.
The minister said the Houthis have confiscated the funds and passports of a number of pilgrims to prevent them from performing Haj. “ The Kingdom’s strict measures have foiled an attempt by Houthis to politicize Haj,” he said.
In a related development, a symposium organized recently by the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for establishing an international airport in Makkah to be named after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
The participants were in agreement that the capacity of the current airports in Jeddah and Madinah would not be enough to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims in the coming years.
Bentan, who opened the gathering, lamented the fact that the trade exchange among Muslims countries was very low.
“The volume of trade exchange among 57 Islamic countries is still below $800 million while their resources run into trillions,” he said.
He urged Muslim countries to boost their economic cooperation, increase their mutual investments and create trade and economic partnerships.