Muscat: Oman will abide by the request from Saudi authorities to reduce the number of pilgrims visiting the kingdom for this year’s Haj, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs.
“We have received a letter from the respective agencies in Saudi Arabia advising that the usual share of Omani pilgrims (14,000) will be reduced by 20 per cent for this year’s Haj,” a ministry spokesman said in the statement carried by the Oman News Agency (ONA) on Monday.
“Due to the ongoing expansion projects at the Holy Mosque and Makkah, the ministry decided to abide by the request made by the Saudi Agency and reduce the number of pilgrims for this year by 20 per cent,” the spokesman for the ministry added.
Thus, he pointed out that the share of each Haj contractor in Oman would be distributed according to the new quota.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs spokesman also said that the reduction is attributed to the inability of the Holy Shrine in Makkah to receive the number of pilgrims coming from outside Saudi Arabia last year due to the expansion works.
The capacity of the turnaround areas (Tawaf) is 48,000 pilgrims per hour before starting the project. The capacity is now reduced to 22,000 pilgrims. This means that the Mataf area cannot accommodate the large number of pilgrims during this year’s Haj.
The Saudi agencies thus decided to reduce the number of pilgrims coming from all Arab and Muslim countries by 20 per cent temporarily till the expansion projects are completed in a bid to ensure the safety of all Haj and Umrah performers.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs called upon Haj contractors to give the opportunity for citizens and expatriates who have not performed Haj during the last five years.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs also called upon those who intend to perform Haj this year to ensure that the Haj contractor is approved by the ministry and has an official licence for 1434 AH Haj season.
“It is also important to sign the standard contract between the pilgrim and the Haj contractor as this contract safeguards the rights of each party.”
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs called also upon licensed Haj contractors to abide by the laws and regulations in force in Saudi Arabia to avoid any inconvenience to them and to the pilgrims with them and ensure that they perform their rituals properly.