SERVICE TO BENEFIT DOOMESTIC PILGRIMIS, INCLUDING EXPATRIATES
By P K Abdul Ghafour
JEDDAH — The Saudi Haj Ministry announced on Tuesday that it has licensed 22 companies to provide low-cost Haj services to domestic pilgrims, including expatriates. “These companies will charge SR1,900 to SR3,900,” it said, adding that such services would cover 20 percent of domestic pilgrims.
The ministry said it was encouraging Haj companies to provide low-cost services to meet the requirements of a large number of Saudis and expatriates by providing incentives such as increasing the number of pilgrims they serve.
“They are also given priority in tent allocations in Mina,” a ministry official said. Moreover, they are allowed to rent 70 percent of buses from foreign companies. The ministry stressed that the prices of low-cost Haj firms would remain within a range of SR1,900 to SR3,900 in the coming years.
The King Abdullah Zamzam Water Project has made arrangements to supply water bottles among pilgrims during this Haj season, said a senior official of the National Water Company. “The project, which is located in Makkah, has produced 55 million bottles of water since it was launched in September 2010,” he said.
“We increase the plant’s production by 50 percent during the Haj season,” the official said.
He said the company has made arrangements to supply Zamzam water bottles at airports for distribution among pilgrims when they return home.
The official also disclosed plans to sell Zamzam water bottles at the project’s sales outlets. The project extends its services to 6,000 customers daily by supplying an average of 50,000 bottles. The project was implemented upon directives issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at a cost of SR700 million. It has four production lines with a total capacity of 200,000 bottles daily.
Government hospitals in Makkah and Madinah have carried out 42 heart operations, an open heart surgery, nine abdominal operations and 316 dialysis sessions on pilgrims from Sept. 7, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday. “As many as 158,929 pilgrims visited government hospitals and health centers in the two holy cities during this period and were given various medical services,” it said.—Arab News