With Haj season to start soon, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments /Awqaf has approved certain new rules in approving permit for Haj pilgrimage.
Preferences are given to certain group of people such as senior citizens, people with special needs and patients who have not performed the rituals earlier.
Dr Mohammed Mattar Al Kaabi, chairman of the authority, said that they have adopted the electronic registration system for the first time this year.
“All the applications of people who are 60-years-old and above and are already registered in the system, has been approved.” Al Kaabi said.
80 per cent of the Haj requests issued this season have been approved for the first time for male and female applicants who are 60-years-old and above. Priority has also been given to people of determination (special needs people) and patients, he added.
“People below 60, who have registered in the electronic system, and the one who have not performed Haj before, have also been given priority.”
Dr Al Kaabi stated that 20 per cent of the Haj permits were given to those who have already performed the pilgrimage. “These are mahrams (caretakers) of first-time women pilgrims, and assistants of senior people along with patients and people of determination.”
They are exempted from the priority of electronic registration, he said. “However, they should be at least 12-years-old and medically fit.”
As for voluntary pilgrims, priority has been given to first-time applicants, Dr Al Kaabi explained. SMS and emails will be sent to all pilgrims who have been issued Haj permits this year.
“All the other applicants, who have not performed Haj, will be given priority in the next season 2018/2019.”
He also said that Haj tour operators are maximising their efforts to provide the best services through diverse programmes. “This has led to a significant drop in the costs of Haj and the provision of better quality services.”