Saudi Gazette (JEDDAH)
Director General of Passports Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Yahya revealed that over 1.7 million pilgrims have been logged as arrivals for this year’s Haj at a press conference at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.
“Over 1.6 million of the pilgrims arrived through airports, 88,500 of them came from border checkpoints while 14,800 came from sea ports. Over 134,000 pilgrims are Saudis and 109,000 are expatriates among the domestic pilgrims,” he said.
The Passport Directorate also noted that it has given 73,488 licenses to expatriates working in transport sector at the holy sites.
According to Al-Yahya, the directorate has impounded 5 vehicles, imprisoned 375 violators and announced (Tashhir) on 22 while adding that the department also collected SR1.7 million from violators.
He said, “The department has busted 64 forgery cases from outside the Kingdom and they are mainly people who used to live in Saudi Arabia and were trying to enter the Kingdom again.”
Al-Yahya said that they have successfully tried a new system by which they finalize the procedures of pilgrims before they arrive in the Kingdom to avoid long lines at Saudi airports.
The new system, to speed up the process, was applied on 1,692 Malaysian pilgrims and its results are being studied and when approved by officials it will be implemented on a bigger scale, encompassing other countries.
The passport department has prepared four seasonal check points that work around the clock which are Al-Shumaisi, Al-Taneem, Al-Buhaita and Al-Kar.
He added, “women are also involved in the checking process and are trained to do various tasks. In the future women passengers will be given the chance to choose if they want a man or a woman to complete their process.”