Saudi Arabia defends big cut in pilgrim numbers

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
An aerial view shows the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP/Getty Images)

An aerial view shows the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Haj has said the decision to cut the number of pilgrims is "exceptional and temporary" until the completion of expansion plans at the holy sites.

Dr Bandar bin Mohammed Hajjar was defending the decision to reduce the numbers of pilgrims at home by 50 percent and abroad by 20 percent.

During a TV interview, Hajjar said that the current expansion projects of the Grand Holy Mosque in Makkah will add 400,000 sq to the current area to accommodate 2.2 million worshippers.

He added that the Jamarat Bridge will be expanded from six to 12 floors to accommodate 5 million pilgrims per day, and the Prophet's Holy Mosque in Madinah will be expanded to accommodate more than two million worshippers.

Hajjar said that the expansion projects include public transport costing a total of SR62bn.

Last week, the Saudi Arabian tourism industry and Umrah visa operators claimed they will lose SR5bn ($1.3bn) in revenue after the kingdom limited the number of visas and their duration.

Muslim pilgrims who make the voyage to Makkah will now only be allowed to stay in Saudi Arabia for 14 days because of renovations and an expansion of the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site.

The National Committee for Haj and Umrah (NCHU), which represents companies that facilitate pilgrims’ trips to Makkah, claims the decision, announced this month, came too close to Ramadan, when most pilgrims make their journey, and Umrah operators could be forced to refund some visas issued for longer than 14 days.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Is Dubai ready for 20,000 more hotel rooms?

Is Dubai ready for 20,000 more hotel rooms?

Can the city cope with the additional supply predicted by Dubai...

Oman, the hidden treasure

Oman, the hidden treasure

Relatively few have experienced the wonders of Oman but multiple...

Review: Corinthia Hotel, London

Review: Corinthia Hotel, London

The legendary property off Trafalgar Square has launched a new...

Most Discussed