Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
JEDDAH: A quarter of the 7,000 places for Libyan pilgrims to Makkah this year have been reserved for the martyrs’ families of Libyan revolutionaries.
A diplomat at the Libyan Embassy in Riyadh, who requested anonymity, confirmed that “the Libyan government will cover expenses of pilgrims from the martyrs’ families.”
Saudi Arabia allocates a number of Haj places to each country based on its population. In the case of Libya, this year’s Haj quota is on the generous side.
“The families are to be chosen by lottery. The authorities also set aside a percentage of Haj places for martyrs’ families and covered their full costs. The practice will continue every year for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Haj is expected to fall this year between Oct. 24-29. Pilgrims usually spend around two weeks in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, arriving several days in advance. Many also travel to Madinah to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque.
The consul general of Libya in Jeddah, Mohammad Al-Hamroni, confirmed a first group of 130 Libyan pilgrims had already arrived in Jeddah on way to Makkah for Haj. The consulate has been making constant and concerted efforts to improve the services provided to Libyan pilgrims.
Meanwhile, 540,000 tickets are now on sale for the Holy Sites Train, and will continue to be available for pilgrims until the third day of Dul Hijjah (Oct. 19), according to Fareed bin Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, head of the ticket collection committee. Tickets are being sold at the Central Administration for Development Projects offices, located on Makkah Ring Road in front of Al-Nour Hospital.
Tickets cost SR 250 for pilgrims and SR 50 for operators, non-pilgrim government sector employees and Haj group officials.
“The tickets are differentiated by color, to distinguish the three holy sites’ nine stations. Blue tickets are for Station 1; yellow for Station 2 and green for Station 3. All stations are at Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafat,” said Al-Ghamdi.
“At each station there will be a checking point to avoid congestion and ensure that only pilgrims with tickets get on board. For further security measures, an electronic gate is situated right after the checkpoint, allowing pilgrims access to the stations. The stations are also equipped with escalators to allow access for the disabled and elderly, he added.
Al-Ghamdi said the project officials met with domestic pilgrim companies and Tawafa companies (responsible for external pilgrims) to introduce and orient them about the train stations.