Ministry to permanently ban fraud HGOs

The Nation

ISLAMABAD : The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has decided to permanently ban the private Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) on cheating the intending pilgrims.

According to official sources, the Ministry obtains five per cent performance guarantee from old HGOs and 10 per cent bank guarantee from newly enrolled HGOs to protect the interests of private pilgrims. Each HGO is bound to sign an agreement with the individual Haji regarding the facilities being offered in the package.

The guarantee amount would be returned after Haj on showing satisfactory performance and receiving no complaint from private Hujjaj.

The Ministry will act as sole arbitrator and decision of the Ministry will be final in case of any dispute between the service provider and the Haji/Hujjaj.

The complete data of the enrolled HGOs have been placed at Ministry’s website.

Hujjaj can check the facilities being provided to them from the website.

They can check individual agreements, residence, travel itinerary and details of package at website.

Ministry has also devised a mechanism to strictly monitor HGOs and packaged offered by them.

The monitoring section has been assigned to ensure scrutiny of documents, keep proper record, ensure proper research and developments system and even proper implementation of existing rules and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS).

Ministry has also taken various other steps to minimise private Haj packages.

Meanwhile, the number of Umrah visas issued this year by Saudi Arabia has reached more than 4.33 million.

According to data provided by the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah, the total figure for approved visas stands at 4,338,959, of which 3,892,554 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom. There are 443,560 pilgrims still in the country, with 304,897 of them in Makkah and 138,663 in Madina.

Most pilgrims 3,464,929 travelled to the Kingdom by air, while 392,632 entered by land and 34,993 arrived by sea, Saudi Gazette reported.

The largest number of pilgrims are from Pakistan (949,895), followed by Indonesia (633,253), India (408,495), Yemen (206,980), Egypt (204327), Malaysia (200,873), Turkey (183,164), Algeria (138,092), and Bangladesh (99,629).

The weekly data also included 8,441 males and 1,738 females working within Umrah companies and institutions.

Developing Haj and Umrah organisations and services in the Kingdom is among the top priorities of the Saudi government.

Vision 2030 aims to attract more than 30 million Umrah pilgrims and provide them with top-class services.

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