Saudi Arabia News

Expat residents performing Haj without permits to be deported

Violating expat residents will also be banned from entering the country for 10 years

Manama: Saudi authorities have warned that foreigners residing in the kingdom who attempt to enter Makkah to perform Haj without permits would be deported.

They would also be banned from re-entering Saudi Arabia for ten years for deliberately breaking the rules, the General Directorate of Passports has said.

Expatriates have also been told that they could not drive their vehicles into Makkah until the end of the pilgrimage season, unless they proved they lived in the holy city or had the proper permission to enter the holy city.

Saudi Arabia has been following a very strict policy with regards to the number of people living in the kingdom who can perform Haj in a bid to provide better chances for those who have never performed the annual rituals and to control numbers in order to avoid excess crowds.

A Haj quota was introduced in 1987 following an agreement by all member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that the number of pilgrims allowed by each country would be 0.1 per cent of its population.

Under Saudi Arabia’s laws, no foreign Haj applicant can enter the country if he or she is not registered with a Haj operator.

The rule is in place to ensure there are no clandestine operations or the smuggling of people into the country on the pretext of performing Haj.

However, despite regular warnings of zero-tolerance towards allowing anyone to enter Makkah for the annual Haj rituals without permission from the entities tasked with overseeing the operations, Saudi authorities annually face the daunting task of dealing with thousands of people without official permits attempting to enter the holy city.

Some of them are well aware they are breaking the rules, while others are abused by unlicensed operators who attempt to take them to Makkah, often through perilous roads to avoid detection.

The six-day Haj season will this year start on August 19 and would-be pilgrims would congregate on Mount Arafat on the outskirts of Makkah on August 20 for a day of prayers and supplications.

Eid Al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, will be celebrated on August 21. The feast commemorates Prophet Ebrahim’s devotion to God and his readiness to sacrifice his son.

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