Medical team members evacuate a pilgrim, affected by the soarching heat, at the base of Mount Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has clarifed that certain foreign tourist companies from friendly countries that have been misleading their visit visa holders.

According to Col. Talal Al Shalhoub, Security spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior, these companies have been issuing visas not intended for Hajj and encouraging the holders to stay in Mecca illegally two months before the Hajj season.

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Col. Al Shalhoub highlighted the misuse of visit visas and other non-Hajj visas by individuals seeking to perform Hajj.

He emphasized that the Ministry of Interior has launched media and awareness campaigns to discourage such actions and enforce stringent penalties on violators.

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“A Hajj permit is not merely a transit card but a crucial tool that facilitates access to pilgrims and identifies their locations to provide necessary care and services promptly,” Al Shalhoub stated, underscoring the importance of the permit for ensuring the safety and well-being of pilgrims.

The 2024 Hajj season’s security plans have been successfully executed, following directives from the nation’s leadership and the continuous supervision of Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif.

These plans were implemented well in advance and involved coordinated efforts between various security, military, and government agencies.

This ensured that pilgrims could perform their rituals safely and comfortably.

Al Shalhoub reported that a significant portion of the fatalities during the Hajj season — 83 per cent, which equates to 1,079 out of 1,301 deaths — were among those without a Hajj permit.