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Fri 12 Dec 2008 12:27 PM

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UAE's Haj chief lauds 2008 as best in 15 years

Chairman of Haj Mission also says talks will take place to increase quota for UAE pilgrims.

The chairman of the UAE official Haj Mission has hailed this year's event as the best in 15 years and revealed that efforts were being made to increase UAE's quota for pilgrims for next year.

Mohammed Obaid al-Mazruei praised the expansion in all facilities and holy sites by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Haj.

He also revealed that the number of violations so far registered by his organisation against UAE Haj contractors "did not exceed three", while there had been 10 complaints received from UAE pilgrims - a much improved record compared to previous years, news agency WAM reported.

He said he had not received any serious complaints or any serious lapses in the services being rendered by UAE Haj contractors but added: "The Mission continues to learn from the mistakes of every season for better performance in the future."

Mazruei said the high cost of Haj this year was due to a number of market factors, including high rent in Mecca, Madina, Mina and Arafat, as well as the high cost of air tickets.

He pledged to work in collaboration with the Haj contractors to try to reduce the cost for pilgrims and added that the General Islamic Affairs and Awqaf Authority would hold talks with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Haj in a bid to increase in the UAE quota of pilgrims next year.

Meanwhile, traffic police patrolling the holy sites in Saudi Arabia have referred 39,000 car owners to the Traffic Violations Commission in connection with breaches of regulations on transporting pilgrims.

Brigadier Sulaiman al-Ajlan, assistant commander of Haj Security Forces, said the impounded cars will not be released until after the Haj.

More than 50 percent of buses permitted to transport pilgrims in Haj were also impounded for various violations.

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