Facing The Ka'aba

June 11, 2024

Hajj 2024: Saudi Arabia urges compliance to rules, safety

Saudi Arabia

Muslim worshippers gather around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca on June 4, 2024 as pilgrims arrive ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage. (Photo by Abdel Ghani BASHIR / AFP)

… Says 8,000 surveillance cameras in Makkah, other Holy sites

… As Grand Hajj Symposium holds

By Ishola Balogun with Saudi Agency report

The 48th Grand Hajj Symposium, hosted by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Makkah, emphasised the importance of adhering to religious concessions and complying with regulations during Hajj.

The event was held Monday in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, ahead of the hajj rites, which begin Friday, June 14.

Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and more than 500 scholars and thinkers worldwide participated in the event.

Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, highlighted the Kingdom’s responsibility in caring for the Two Holy Mosques and pilgrims.

Al-Asheikh emphasised the importance of adhering to regulations and obtaining a pilgrimage permit, stating that failing to do so is a sin, according to Shariah.

The Hajj minister also stressed the need for pilgrims to cooperate with security authorities.

Al-Rabiah underscored the importance of informing pilgrims about available services during Hajj, highlighting the collaboration among security and service agencies.

He said these efforts are to ease pilgrims’ journeys and raise awareness about regulations, including campaigns to address the risks of not following Hajj instructions, and combating fraudulent activities.

The Kingdom also initiated the “No Hajj without a Permit” national awareness campaign, led by the Ministry of Interior and other stakeholders, to educate pilgrims on pilgrimage rules, ensuring smooth and convenient rituals, Al-Rabiah said.

Lt. Gen. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, director of public security and chairman of the Hajj Security Committee, said that the Hajj security forces are prepared to deter and prevent any threats to the safety of pilgrims.

“We will prevent anyone who dares to compromise the security of Hajj, the sanctity of the holy sites, or the safety of the nation,” he said. “Our eyes and centres are prepared to handle anything that may disturb the tranquility of pilgrims.”

During a session titled “Toward a Safe Hajj — Compliance with Guidelines and Regulations,” Al-Bassami said that pilgrims and those carrying ihram without the necessary permits would face arrest. Additionally, they would be fined SR10,000 ($2,666), and foreigners and residents would be deported.

Al-Bassami announced the use of technology, including artificial intelligence, for this year’s Hajj season. A new system tracks pilgrim numbers at Jamarat Bridge, overseen by security personnel. A team of programmers and assistants reduces the need for frequent headquarters communication.

Al-Bassami said that artificial intelligence is now a vital component, not just an option, for ensuring security during the Hajj season.

He also noted the presence of 8,000 surveillance cameras in Makkah and the holy sites. Al-Bassami said that all security personnel are actively monitoring and enforcing compliance with Hajj regulations.
The Nigerian delegation was led by NAHCON Operations Commissioner Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju on behalf of the Chairman/CEO.

Elegushi emphasised the importance of the symposium, adding that the message will be disseminated to Nigerian Pilgrims through their respective states’ Pilgrim Welfare Agencies, Boards, and Commissions.

Also, in his presentation, the representative of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, stated that the symposium was geared towards offering reliefs to pilgrims and such reliefs must be accepted for the comfort of all.

“As it is in Islam to accept reliefs offered by the religion in the performance of rites, especially with reducing the four-part prayer to two for pilgrims during certain times and also merging the two prayers, so it is the reliefs offered and put in place by the Saudi authorities for the comfort of all pilgrims,” he said.