Cairo: Saudi Arabia has started receiving applications from companies interested in obtaining licences to serve overseas Muslim pilgrims during the upcoming annual Hajj season, a Saudi official has said.
The registration will run through December 5 and the applications are received via the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s portal, added the ministry’s undersecretary for Hajj affairs Ayed Algwinm.
“This initiative aims at strengthening competitiveness to provide distinguished services for the overseas pilgrims and expanding the scale of these services,” he said.
“An increase in the number of companies specialised in this field will help fulfil these objectives and meet needs and aspirations of pilgrims coming from everywhere,” Algwinm added.
The services provided by the licensed firms include accommodation and transportation.
Nearly 2 million pilgrims from around the world last June performed Hajj in Saudi Arabia, marking the return of their numbers to pre-pandemic levels.
Saudi Arabia has already set rules for the upcoming Hajj season and stressed early preparations.
According to these rules, no specific places would be allotted for countries at the Saudi holy sites in the new pilgrimage season, the kingdom’s Minister of Hajj Tawfeeq Al Rabiah has said.
He explained that places for different countries will be designated depending on finalising contracts.
“The country that concludes early contracts will be given the priority in taking the appropriate places at the holy places,” he said.
The issuance of Hajj visas will commence on March 1 and end on the 20th of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar corresponding to April 29.
The arrival of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will begin on the first of Dhul Qaidah, the 11th Islamic month, corresponding to May 9.
The new mechanism is geared towards facilitating preparations for Hajj, an obligatory Islamic duty.