MINA: Malaysia has praised Saudi Arabia’s successful handling of 2.35 million Haj pilgrims from around the world, who converged in the Holy Land to perform the Fifth Pillar of Islam this year.
“It is extraordinary to manage the movement and mobilisation of the largest gathering of people in the world over five days involving the four key locations — Masjidil Haram, Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina,” deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said.
Speaking to Malaysian media, Asyraf said he had conveyed Malaysia’s appreciation to King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud at the ruler’s Aidil Adha reception for foreign dignitaries on Saturday, and at a meeting with Mecca Governor Prince Khalid al-Faisal Al-Saud on Friday.
“I also conveyed our thanks to King Salman for agreeing to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s request to increase the number of Malaysian Haj pilgrims this year,” he added.
Asyraf said the Saudi government’s exceptional treatment included free medical services at government hospitals for Malaysian pilgrims, regardless how chronic their illnesses are.
Prince Khalid, meanwhile, praised Malaysia for having an institution like Tabung Haji (TH) and its success in managing Malaysian Haj pilgrims, whom he described as among the best for their discipline and orderly worship.
“We also discussed Malaysia’s intent to work with Saudi Arabia on building a Tabung Haji Complex that can accommodate our entire Haj delegation. This would improve Malaysia’s management of Haj and lower the cost of managing pilgrims in the long term,” Asyraf added.
Meanwhile, local media reported that Prince Khalid — who is also chairman of Saudi’s Central Haj Committee — on Sunday declared this year’s Haj season a success.
He attributed the success to the Kingdom's employment of all its human, physical and technical capabilities to serve the pilgrims, expand and develop the two Holy Mosques and the holy sites.
Prince Khalid revealed that an integrated plan for the development of the holy sites will be announced soon, that will accommodate more pilgrims, including the services provided.
Hosting the large number of Haj pilgrims within a limited space — crowd density has been estimated at six people per square metre — requires tremendous logistics and facilities organisation and coordination.
As part of the Kingdom’s safety and security arrangements, more than 17,000 trained personnel, supported by 3,000 advanced vehicles, have been deployed. Pilgrims are also monitored by over 100,000 security agents, supported by face-recognition software and closed-circuit cameras, the report added.
The Haj team deployed on the ground, meanwhile, is proficient in more than a dozen languages to ensure that all needs of pilgrims are met.