Dr. Abdel-Fattah Mashat, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, said the Kingdom would provide tents to isolate pilgrims infected with the Covid-19 during the upcoming Hajj.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Mashat noted that the relevant service provider companies would allocate a specific percentage of tents for isolation procedures, stressing that immediate penalties would be imposed for any shortage, including direct compensation for the pilgrims who were not provided with the requested services.
He pointed to ongoing communication with Hajj affairs offices in more than 180 countries regarding agreements, as well as instructions and matters pertaining to the issuance of visas and other preparations.
He revealed that the ministry has developed a new technology to serve pilgrims in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe, which enables them to obtain approvals and services without intermediaries. This service helped reduce prices by more than 30%, he underlined.
The ministry is also developing strategic plans in coordination with the relevant public and private sector agencies to overcome challenges and improve the Hajj experience, according to Mashat.
“The Ministry of Hajj deals with all relevant sectors at home and abroad to make the Hajj successful and provide the best care for pilgrims,” he stressed.
Moreover, he added that another technical service was recently launched by the ministry, a dedicated electronic awareness platform, which has been sent to pilgrims, Hajj affairs offices and workers to inform them about the regulations and standards.
Regarding health protocols, Mashat underlined that Saudi Arabia has proven its success in dealing with all external circumstances, including the coronavirus pandemic.
“We fully trust the efforts of the Ministry of Health to avoid the outbreak of any epidemics during the current Hajj season… We should also not forget the importance of the proactive work undertaken by the concerned authorities to deal with the developments and avoid a new outbreak,” he stated.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs plays an important role in facilitating the issuance of Hajj visas, Mashat said, especially with the adoption of the electronic visa system.
The official also pointed to the role of service provider companies, which he said reflects development and progress in the sector.