Makkah Governor to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Will Not Tolerate Politicization of Hajj
From his office located between Jabal al-Nour and the Great Mosque of Makkah, aide of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of the Makkah region Prince Khalid al-Faisal presides over the arrival of Hajj pilgrims to perform this year’s holy rituals.
As of Monday, more than one million have arrived in the Kingdom for Hajj, which kicks off in August.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Prince Khalid said the only concerns he has for the pilgrimage is its exploitation for non-religious purposes.
“Saudi Arabia rejects all forms of politicization of the Hajj. We will not tolerate transforming this majestic holy rite into a political platform,” he stressed.
“We are proud of serving our duty for Muslims, regardless of any other factors,” he added.
Asked whether regional instability affects the Hajj, he replied: “We approach the pilgrims as pilgrims. We cater to their needs in our roles as servants to the Two Holy Mosques. Every nationality that arrives here to perform the Hajj is welcome.”
“We take everything into account, but also ensure the safety of the pilgrims and offer them all possible facilitations to ensure their holy journey takes place smoothly,” stated Prince Khalid.
Addressing the authorities in Doha and their tightening of restrictions on Qataris seeking to perform the Hajj, he remarked that Saudi Arabia has announced on several occasions that it was ready to receive pilgrims from all over the world, including Qatar.
The Kingdom has this year urged Qatari authorities to ease these restrictions and it has dedicated an online platform specifically for pilgrims from Qatar, he said. It remains up to Doha to play its part in facilitating their journey from its end.
As for pilgrims from Iran, he said that the limits to the number of pilgrims received by Saudi Arabia each year are not set by the Kingdom, but rather all Muslim countries at a dedicated conference.
“All pilgrims are warmly welcomed in the Kingdom as stipulated by our Islamic values,” added Prince Khalid.
Moreover, he predicted that more than 2 million pilgrims are expected to perform the Hajj this year.
On future plans to further improve the Hajj, he revealed that the Development of Makkah Region Authority has worked with several parties on the implementation of several projects at the holy sites. Among them are preparations at the Mina area, the expansion of roads and walkways, installing 2,500 new toilets and establishing areas to accommodate 40,000 pilgrims.
In addition, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has sought to provide electronic services to the pilgrims, most notably a platform to issue e-visas to the visitors, he continued. They will also be able to file complaints through an online platform. A lost and found app has also been developed. An electronic system has been set up to ease the arrival and departure of the pilgrims to and from the Kingdom.
More than 300,000 military and civilian personnel, as well as 4,000 volunteers, are ensuring that the best services are provided to the pilgrims throughout their stay in the Kingdom, said Prince Khalid.