Hajj Minister: Makkah and Madinah now host 1.3 million foreign pilgrims and visitors
Deputy Emir of Makkah Prince Badr bin Sultan, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih attending the inaugural session of the Manafa Forum in Makkah on Monday.
MAKKAH — Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said that Makkah and Madinah are witnessing this year the inflow of record number of foreign pilgrims and visitors and there are currently 1.3 million of them present in the two holy cities. “All the procedures have been improved remarkably and there is a major qualitative shift in the movement of worshipers as well as in the facilities and services being provided to them inside the Two Holy Mosques, thanks to the tremendous efforts that are being exerted,” he said while addressing a dialogue session as part of the first edition of the Manafea Forum, which kicked off here on Monday.
Al-Rabiah said: “We are working to enrich the experience of the pilgrims and visitors as well as to enable them to enjoy the ancient history of the holy cities. Makkah and Madinah are changing for the better and we have more than 100 historical sites in the two cities,” he said. Al-Rabiah said the ministry has a mammoth system to serve Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and the procedures are going on well. More than two million pilgrims will come over to the Kingdom to perform Hajj this year, he said.
Among the changes is that there is a historical legacy in which there is no competition from outside the Kingdom. “Now the tawafa organizations have been transformed into companies, and there will be competition, and we expect quality, which will affect the investment environment. We are keen to open the market to large entities,” he said while noting that the establishment of the Kadana Company will lead to redevelop the infrastructure and increase the capacity to accommodate more people.
The opening session of the Manafea Forum was held under the patronage of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and in the presence of Deputy Emir of Makkah Prince Badr bin Sultan. The forum, organized by Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is being sponsored by Umm Al-Qura Development and Reconstruction Company, the owner and developer of Masar destination. The forum brought together experts, decision-makers and business leaders with the objective to contribute to achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Guests of God Program.
Abdullah Kamel, chairman of the Board of Directors of Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed the importance of the forum sessions to enhance cooperation and integration between the government and private sectors, in a way that supports the status of Makkah and Madinah as centers of attraction for business activities in the Islamic world.
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