Saudi authorities turn away 400,000 pilgrims

A significant number of pilgrims have tried to enter the holy city without a permit



Authorities in the Saudi holy city of Makkah have turned away more than 400,000 pilgrims without a Hajj permit, according to reports.

Saudi Gazette cited the director of public relations and media department at the Public Security authority, colonel Sami Al-Shuwairekh, as confirming the figure during a press conference.

A total of 208,236 vehicles carrying pilgrims without a permit were sent back from entry points, of which 3,296 were seized, according to the official.

A total of 1,841 expatriates are facing legal action for illegally trafficking pilgrims.

The kingdom said yesterday it had received 1,747,440 foreign arrivals so far for this year’s Hajj season, a 32 per cent increase on the same period last year.

An additional 200,000 domestic pilgrims have also been received.

Around 19,500 buses are being used to transport pilgrims from Madinah to Makkah and 9,000 for transport from Makkah Haram to Mina.

Health officials overseeing the pilgrimage said this week that they were prepared to handle any outbreak of disease or stampede following a deadly crush in 2015 that killed more than 2,000 pilgrims.

Read: Saudi says it’s prepared to handle any stampede or disease at hajj

The kingdom is using this year’s Hajj season to employ women in key roles for the first time, including seven as emergency call responders and a number as passport officers at King Abduaziz International Airport in Jeddah.