JEDDAH — Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar has refuted reports that a number of Muslim countries had banned their citizens from traveling to Saudi Arabia for Haj or Umrah because of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which is caused by coronavirus.
“The virus has not had any adverse effect on the Umrah or Haj seasons,” he said.
The minister on Tuesday opened a workshop in Jeddah on the development of the ministry’s data applications on Haj locations in the holy sites and other Saudi towns and cities.
The workshop was titled: “Exchange of expertise and creativity.” “The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has provided all the required human, technical and financial resources to extend the best of services to the guests of Allah,” he said.
Al-Hajjar said the government spends billions of riyals every year on Haj services including the expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah in addition to schemes covering the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
“These projects are aimed at making Haj an easy and comfortable experience,” he said.
He said the ministry is endeavoring to automate all its activities in order to boost the services being provided to pilgrims.
Al-Hajjar said the ministry has established a special unit for science and technology in collaboration with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to upgrade its electronic system and ensure better services for pilgrims.
The ministry’s undersecretary, Suhail Al-Sabban, said the workshop was an illustration of the partnership between the various sectors involved in Haj services.
On its first day, the workshop discussed the geographical data of Makkah, Madinah, the holy sites and Jeddah to assess the accommodation available to pilgrims.
Al-Sabban said the tents for the accommodation of pilgrims in the holy sites were already delivered to the Tawafa establishments earlier this month.