Posted on: Thursday 5 July, 2012 6:34
|22 new projects to improve Haj and Umrah services
TAIF - Dr. Bandar Hajjar, Minister of Haj, has said that his ministry has been working on several projects to improve services to Haj and Umrah pilgrims.
Eleven programs each for Haj and Umrah are currently being developed and professional consultants will follow up them in the field separately during Umrah and Haj seasons. Their observations will be recorded and the level of achievements will be measured for evaluation purposes. This process will be repeated several times to achieve optimum level of improvement for each program.
Speaking to Okaz newspaper Tuesday, Hajjar said the new projects were in line with a Cabinet decision to come up with a comprehensive strategy to improve Haj and Umrah services over the next 25 years.
Hajjar reiterated the ministry's readiness for upcoming Ramadan. "Until July 1, about 3.8 million Umrah pilgrims entered the Kingdom, which is an increase of 400,000 compared to the same period last year. Currently there are 290,000 pilgrims in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. The rest have already returned to their countries," the minister said.
The number of Umrah overstayers dropped considerably this year thanks to regulations laid down by the ministry to curtail this negative phenomenon, he said. In 2005, there were 450,000 Umrah overstayers but the number has been gradually brought down to 24,000 last year.
The ministry has been electronically monitoring all Umrah pilgrims to prevent anyone from overstaying his or her visa. Field inspectors are deployed in all areas with high concentration of Umrah pilgrims to ensure their wellbeing and resolve any issues they might encounter.
Hajjar said the committee that was set up earlier to re-organize services provided to Umrah performers made remarkable progress. New regulations will be issued for licensing Umrah service companies with greater emphasis on the quality of services, he added.