Over 1.28 lakh Indian pilgrims reach Saudi Arabia for Hajj

Blanche Robertson
August 18, 2018

This year, the Saudis launched a "smart hajj" initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.

Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, and has placed the Gulf state under a land, sea, and air blockade.

Saudi's General Overseer of Passports, Sulaiman Al-Yahya, said 18 individuals were being prosecuted for illegally transporting pilgrims without permits.

"There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for Hajj", he told the Reuters news agency.

Speaking with newsmen, the commissioner of operations, Abdullahi Modibbo, said state pilgrims welfare boards registered about 40,000 people, while close to 19,000 registered through private tour operators.

Over 1.28 lakh Indian pilgrims have reached Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage, officials said. An impeccable source revealed that the affected intending pilgrims, predominantly passengers from travel agencies, might have missed the opportunity this year, considering the closure of borders. The four countries accused Qatar of sponsoring "terrorism" and destabilizing the region, an allegation strongly denied by Doha.

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Saudi Arabia has said Qatari pilgrims can arrive on any airline other than Qatar Airways.

"This year, nobody is really trying as people have understood there is no way to go there in these circumstances", the official said.

Available records indicated that out of 55,000 pilgrims booked for hajj by the Nigerian Hajj Commission, only 37,576 had so far been airlifted to Saudi Arabia, leaving 17,424 behind.

"We sell Hajj journeys by bus with accommodation for around 12,000 riyals", its manager said.

"Pilgrims did not turn out for registration in good time".

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