1998 News Story

Prince Nayef comments on 1418 Hajj arrangements

Interior Minister Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz, at yesterday's press conference following his inspection tour of the holy places, made a number of comments on the arrangements for Hajj . He began by reiterating the concern of the government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz for the development of services being extended to the pilgrims, noting that royal directives have been issued to remove the government buildings that are in the holy places, since the area is small, and hoped that this will be carried out as soon as the necessary arrangements are made.

On the matter of pilgrim quotas from Muslim countries, Prince Nayef said that Saudi Arabia will adhere to the Amman Agreement, adding that the Kingdom's concern is to ensure the comfort of the pilgrims, no matter how large their number. He went on to announce that effective the next pilgrimage season, there will be a special arrangement for Saudi pilgrims in line with the Royal Decree in this respect, noting that directives have been issued to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance to enlighten citizens on the rights of other Muslims to perform Hajj .

In response to a question on whether the Kingdom plans to impose fees on those countries which send large numbers of pilgrims, Prince Nayef said it will carry out its duty and is not planning to place greater burdens on pilgrims.

Referring to the decision adopted by the United Nations Security Council concerning the Libyan and Iraqi pilgrims, Prince Nayef stated that it is the Kingdom's responsibility to receive any pilgrim arriving on Saudi territory by any means of transportation, and pointed out that a Libyan plane carrying pilgrims arrived on Sunday and was duly received by the Saudi authorities.

Prince Nayef then categorically denied reports carried by certain Iranian sources to the effect that Iranian pilgrims were being harassed, saying: "I would like to reiterate that the Iranian pilgrims are treated on an equal basis with the other pilgrims."

Commenting on arrangements for the current Hajj season, Prince Nayef praised the decision to prohibit the use of gas at the holy places, and hoped that this decision would contribute positively to prevent fires, and that the civil defense authorities would do their best to enforce it.

Referring to those who remain illegally in the Kingdom, Prince Nayef remarked that enough time is given to correct their situation, but that the Saudi authorities cannot extend this time, saying: "Our instructions are very clear, and everyone should cooperate with the Ministry of the Interior and in particular the Department of Passports, to carry out the decisions taken earlier in this regard, otherwise violators will be subject to punishment."