A Saudi passport personnel processing arrival procedures for the first batch of Indian pilgrims after their landing at a Medina airport Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Saudi police said they had arrested two expatriates for posting advertisements on social media for bogus and misleading campaigns for next month’s annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage.

The duo – two Egyptian residents – had claimed in the adverts providing housing for Hajj pilgrims in the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina with the purpose of swindle and fraud, police added in a statement.

Legal procedures were taken against the suspects, who have been referred to public prosecution.

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Saudi Arabia has recently cautioned Muslims planning to perform Hajj of fake campaigns and websites, and defined associated legal channels.

The kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj said reliance on official channels guarantee access to pilgrimage and safeguard pilgrims’ rights during the holy journey.

The ministry stressed that all pilgrims must obtain a Hajj permit. The announcement followed a recent statement by the Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic body, who pointed out that performing Hajj without an official permit is deemed sinful.

Starting from June 2, Saudi Arabia will enforce penalties against Muslims caught trying to illegally perform Hajj in and around Mecca.

This year’s Hajj rites are expected to commence on June 14, depending on sighting the new moon.

Violators of Hajj regulations, be they Saudi citizens, foreign residents and visitors, are liable to a fine of SR10,000.

Expatriate offenders will also be deported home and barred from re-entry of the kingdom. The fine will double on repetition.

A person caught transporting violators of the Hajj-related instructions and illegal pilgrims, meanwhile, faces jailing up to six months and a maximum fine of SR50,000. If the violating transporter is an expatriate, the offender will be deported from the kingdom after serving the term.