Nigeria to begin airlift of pilgrims for hajj this month
‘6.75 million pilgrims performed Umrah’
With the first flight to convey Nigeria pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for 2017 Hajj billed for Friday, July 30th.The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria said it has also started processing visa for about 40,000 intending pilgrims that have so far completed their payments in various states of the Federation.
The states with the highest number of registered pilgrims are Kaduna 6,335 followed by Niger with 4,129 Zamfara, Kano and Sokoto each with about 3,000pilgrims.This was revealed in a press release signed by the Head of Media Unit of the Commission, Mallam Uba Mana who added that all States are urged to immediately commence the inoculation of intending pilgrims and issuance of Basic Travel Allowance, BTA.
He further called on all intending pilgrims wishing to travel for the 2017 Hajj to complete their payments to their respective states before the Saudi e-portal for visa approval is closed.
Meanwhile, latest statistics released by the Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, showed that about 6.75 million visas were issued for Muslims to perform the minor pilgrimage this year.
This, according to the agency is an increase of nearly six percent compared to last year when 6.39 million Umrah visas were issued.Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Banten said this ongoing increase in the number of pilgrims and visitors was in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.
Mohammed Al-Klaiby, undersecretary at the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, said occupancy rates in hotels in Makkah and Madinah were very high this season. He said there was a 113 percent increase in occupancy at five-star hotels while the occupancy rate in four-star hotels rose by 71.2 percent.
The ministry’s report said economic and security conditions contributed to the drop in Umrah performers from some countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.There was an increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims from the United States, Germany, Norway and other countries.
Pakistanis topped the list of Umrah pilgrims this year with a total of 1,446,284, which is up 45 percent compared to the previous year. Indonesians came second with 875,958 pilgrims, which is a 25 increase from last year. Indians came next with 524,604 pilgrims while 80,977 pilgrims came from Bangladesh.
A total of 264,878 Umrah visas were issued to Iraqis, an increase of 58 percent compared to last year.Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has denied that Qataris are banned from this year’s Umrah rites, revealing that 1,633 Qataris performed Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
“There is no truth to the reports on social media platforms that Qataris have been turned away and denied the opportunity to perform Umrah,” the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque said in a statement.
“We are committed to serving all people who come to the kingdom to perform Umrah and our Qatari brothers are in the hearts of all Saudis since the minute they arrive into Saudi Arabia until thy leave. Last week, for instance, 1,633 Qataris performed Umrah.”
The presidency said that several online sites have attacked Saudi Arabia, claiming that the kingdom was abusing Qataris in the wake of the diplomatic crisis that hit the region.
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