UK’s electronic visa waiver scheme now open to Saudis

0
4
UK’s electronic visa waiver scheme now open to Saudis

CASABLANCA: Moroccan Hajj pilgrims celebrated on June 20 at Rabat-Sale airport before departing for Madinah for the first time in more than two years.

The contingent, made up of 250 pilgrims, traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the first Hajj open to international pilgrims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To celebrate the day, Moroccan Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Ahmed Toufiq read a message by King Mohammed VI.

He called on pilgrims to “represent their country as they should by giving it an honorable image consistent with the strong adherence of its people to the values ​​of tolerance and moderation, its attachment to doctrinal unity and the principle of the middle ground and rejection of any hint of extremism.”

King Mohammed VI said that he had given instructions to the minister “so that he constantly sees to deploy all the means of care” and to “ensure all the conditions of comfort” so that the pilgrims can “perform rites in an exemplary manner.”

He added: “We also invite you to respect the measures and provisions adopted by the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the organization of this sacred season of Hajj.”

There are 33 total flights scheduled by Moroccan authorities as part of this year’s pilgrimage. The last flight is scheduled to depart on July 3.

Fees for pilgrims, supervised by the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs for the 1443 season, have been set at 63,800 moroccan dirhams ($6,300). The figure was announced by the ministry in a press release on May 23.

To organize this year’s pilgrimage, the Royal Commission held a meeting to discuss the measures taken by Saudi authorities responsible for Hajj. Among other requirements, people authorized to perform the pilgrimage must be under the age of 65, fully vaccinated (three doses), and must present a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours before departure.

The quota of Moroccan pilgrims is 45 percent of the normal amount. In total, 15,392 Moroccans will make the journey, of which 10,186 are supervised by the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs, and 5,206 by travel agencies.

“Within the limit of the percentage mentioned, the Moroccan pilgrims will be chosen among those who were selected in the 2019 draw. In the event that the quota is not reached, we will resort to the waiting list while respecting the age requirement,” the ministry said.

Those excluded because of non-completion of the vaccination schedule will retain their right to be part of next year’s pilgrimage if the age criterion is in conformity and the vaccination is complete,” the ministry added.