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Hajj 2024: Saudi Arabia sets tough guidelines, warns against carrying huge amounts of money

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued tough guidelines ahead of next year’s Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of the Islamic faith. It’s recommended that Muslims who are physically and financially able take this journey at least once in their lifetime.

While launching the certification of companies taking Muslims for Hajj, the executive director of Uganda Bureau of Hajj Affairs, Mr Zakariya Kyewalyanga, on Monday said the new guidelines will help streamline the journeys to avoid complaints.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has removed the role of travel agencies in catering for registering, booking, and paying for Hajj packages, accommodation, and permits to streamline the Hajj activity. It will be managed by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj,” he told journalists.

Mr Kyewalyanga said the Saudi kingdom also warned the pilgrims against carrying huge amounts of money and valuable items.

“We urge pilgrims to avoid coming with large amounts of cash and expensive items because they take a lot of time to be verified yet the number of pilgrims entering the country is very huge,”  the Saudi kingdom stated.

For instance, Mr Kyewalyanga said Muslims taking bulks of money exceeding Shs60m slows the entry processes since they have to confirm the amount.

The kingdom also urged the certified companies to send accommodation fees early to avoid last-minute clearance.
Mr Kyewalyanga said the bureau has embarked on issuing certificates to the companies for proper planning.

“The aim of issuing certificates is to fulfill one of the new guidelines for pilgrims and to stop companies that pretend to take Muslims for Hajj but later swindle their clients’ money,” he said.

Mr Kyewalyanga added that those who fail to fulfill the requirements will not be allowed to operate.

“Every company should have a known office address where the pilgrims can go for inquiries about the requirements for performing Hajj, not the mobile companies,” he said.

According to Mr Kyewalyanga, the government has been questioning the bureau on several companies dealing in Hajj affairs, adding that it was hard to verify them since they did not have statistics.

“Before issuing the certificate, we have to first screen the companies and see how long they have been operating, where they reside, how many people they have been taking annually, and if there is any complaint against them,” he said.

Mr Kyewalyanga added that operating certificates will be renewed annually to help the bureau review the companies’  operating systems and find out their number.

Sheikh Mouhamoud Ntambi, the executive director of Musafirana Haijj company, one of those listed for certification, welcomed the exercise, saying it would get rid of imposters.

“Some people have been using other companies’ names to obtain money by pretense and this has affected our work because people cannot trust us,” he said.

Prohibited. “The [Saudi Arabia] Kingdom also listed four types of baggage prohibited for visitors which  include unwrapped and tied luggage, fabric-wrapped luggage, plastic bags, and baggage exceeding weight restrictions to ensure a secure and efficient entry process,” Zakariya Kyewalyanga, Uganda Bureau of Hajj Affairs 

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