Training schedule to be announced next week for Hajj

Islamabad: Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Aneeq Ahmed, has announced comprehensive plans to further streamline the Hajj pilgrimage experience for Pakistani pilgrims, with the release of a detailed training and biometric schedule slated for next week.

In a recent meeting with Ambassador Nawaf bin Saeed Ahmad Al Maliky of Saudi Arabia, Minister Aneeq Ahmed emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to providing enhanced facilitation for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage scheduled for June this year. He highlighted the convenience offered to Pakistani pilgrims, who can now complete their Saudi visa biometrics from the comfort of their homes, thanks to innovative initiatives introduced by the Ministry.

Acknowledging the efforts of the Pakistan Hajj Mission, Ambassador Al Maliky congratulated the organization for being recognized among the top three award-winning countries. He commended Minister Aneeq Ahmed’s dedication to ensuring smooth Hajj arrangements and facilitating pilgrims, while also praising the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony and the Pakistan Hajj Mission for their exemplary services related to Hajj.

The recently conducted balloting for pilgrims applying through the government Hajj scheme has already been completed, providing clarity and transparency in the selection process. Additionally, the introduction of the Short Hajj package and the continuation of the Sponsorship Scheme aim to accommodate various preferences and financial capabilities of pilgrims.

Under the Long Hajj package, which includes a 38-42 day journey with an 8-day stay in Medina, pilgrims from different regions will have standardized costs, ensuring equitable access to the spiritual journey. Similarly, the Short Hajj package offers a condensed pilgrimage experience lasting 20-25 days, with costs varying slightly based on the region of departure.

Read more: Good news for Hajj Pilgrim

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Grand Mosque Implements Ban on Children’s Strollers: Here’s What You Need to Know

In a recent development, the government of Saudi Arabia has introduced a new policy regarding the entry of children’s strollers within the Holy Kaaba’s circumambulating area, also known as Mataf. The decision, announced by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, aims to enhance safety and streamline crowd management within the premises.

According to the announcement, children’s strollers will no longer be allowed on the ground floor of Mataf. However, designated areas within the Grand Mosque in Makkah, including the upper floors of Mataf, have been specified where strollers are permitted. Additionally, access to Mas’a, the running area between Safa and Marwa, is allowed for strollers through the King Fahd Expansion Area, except during overcrowded conditions on Mataf and Mas’a floors.

This decision comes as part of the government’s efforts to finalize arrangements for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage, which is scheduled to be held in June this year. With an expected influx of around 2 million pilgrims from across the world, the authorities are implementing cautionary measures to ensure the safety and comfort of worshippers, especially during the crowded Hajj and Ramadan months.

In line with these efforts, the authorities have also signed agreements with countries, including Pakistan, to facilitate the smooth conduct of Hajj. Moreover, plans are underway to divide Masjid al-Haram into coded zones, aiming to enhance pilgrim experience, streamline movement, and optimize the allocation of resources across the holy site.

Read more: Marriage ceremonies are permitted at Grand Mosque, Masjid Nabawi: Saudi authorities

The Grand Mosque in Mecca, home to the Holy Kaaba, holds immense significance for millions of Muslims worldwide who gather to offer prayers, perform Umrah, and undertake the sacred journey of Hajj. Last year, despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the kingdom welcomed over 2 million pilgrims for Hajj and more than 13 million Umrah pilgrims, signaling a gradual return to normalcy with the lifting of social distancing protocols.

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