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Dubai: Seven expatriates have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for their involvement in promoting private transportation for Hajj pilgrims travelling to Mecca, Riyadh Police announced.

According to media reports, the seven men arranged private transportation and lured Hajj pilgrims to use the vehicles in an illegal way to travel to Mecca. They also managed to obtain money in advance from the pilgrims.

Riyadh police also arrested another expatriate resident who was operating an unlicensed office in one of the neighbourhoods in the city to promote fake Hajj campaigns.

Legal procedures were initiated against the eight men, who were then handed over to the Public Prosecution, according to the police sources.

Earlier last May, expat residents were banned from entry to the holy city of Mecca without a permit. The ban, which came into force on May 26, will continue until the end of the Hajj season 2022.

Those who are exempt from the ban include the holders of Umrah and Hajj permits, and those who have an entry permit to work in the city and expatriates who have a resident identity card (Iqama) issued from Mecca.

The ban enforced every year at entry points to the holy city applies to all modes of transport, including cars, buses and trucks. However, those who are exempt from the ban must obtain travel permits from the competent authorities.

Saudi Arabia has also warned that anyone caught attempting to perform Hajj without a permit will be fined SR10,000.

The Public Security Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Sami Al Shuwairekh said that this comes in implementation of Hajj instructions that require those wishing to perform Hajj to obtain a permit from the competent authorities.