Saudii Arabi kaaba pilgrims
Pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand Mosque as Saudi Arabia welcomes back pilgrims for the 2022 Hajj season, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 1, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has warned that jail and financial penalties will be meted out against those involved in transporting illegal pilgrims for this week’s Hajj pilgrimage.

Anyone caught transporting people having no permits for performing Hajj will be penalised by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of SR50,000 for every illegal pilgrim, the kingdom’s Interior Ministry said.

Should the offender be an expatriate, he will be deported from the kingdom after serving the penalty handed to him and will be barred from re-entering the kingdom. Offenders also face confiscation of vehicles used in transportation and will be named to be shamed by virtue of a court ruling.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said it would levy a fine of SR10,000 on anyone caught coming to perform Hajj without a permit.

In implementation of Hajj-regulating instructions, pilgrims must obtain permits from the component agency, said spokesman for the Saudi Public Security Department Brig. Sami Al Shuwairekh.

“Anyone caught arriving [for Hajj] without a permit, will get a fine of SR10,000,” he was quoted as saying in media remarks.

Eligible pilgrims this year must be under 65, fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and present a negative PCR test result, Saudi authorities have said. Saudi Arabia has said it will allow 1 million pilgrims from inside and outside the kingdom to perform this year’s Hajj, after restricting the annual ritual to some thousands of Muslims living inside the country for the last two years due to COVID-19 outbreak.

Around 2.5 million Muslims from around the world used to attend Hajj in Saudi Arabia every year before the pandemic.