Ministry of Haj Saudi Arabia - Responsibilities
This Holy Country has had the privilege and honor of shouldering the responsibility of providing integrated services to the pilgrims of Allah's
Inviolable House, to those performing the small Hajj (Umrah) and to the visitors of the Mosqueof theNoble Prophet, peace be upon him. Such services begin with the moment they set foot in the territory of the Kingdom, till their return to their respective countries. Caring for the needs of pilgrims occupy first priority among the state concerns. Article 24 of Part Five, pertaining to the rights and duties appearing in the Kingdom's Governance Statutes, which was issued in 1414 H., provides that "The State shall assume the responsibility of serving the two Holy Mosques, shall take full care of pilgrims, and shall reconstruct the two Holy Mosques and provide services thereto. It shall provide security and care for the visitors thereof to enable them to perform Hajj, Umrah, and visit the Prophet's Mosque in peace and tranquility.
The Ministry of Hajj is the authority that is concerned with the implementation of the State policy connected with Hajj, pilgrims and performers of Umrah. It is the axial government body that coordinates with all government authorities and sectors that are concerned with Hajj and Umrah, and coordinates and makes arrangements with the officials of Islamic countries, the countries wherein there are Muslim minorities, the heads of the delegations of the Hajj Missions and their representatives, in respect of the organization and arrangements of Hajj, pilgrims and performers of Umrah, such things being its essential aim.
In view of the aforementioned, the Ministry of Hajj takes great care to prepare all the service amenities and provides them with all means of comfort and safety, in preparation for the arrival of the guests of Allah's Inviolable House, and to serve them in the best manner that is acceptable to Allah Almighty and that satisfies the aspirations of the government and optimally promotes and develops such services .
The Ministry of Hajj assumes the roles of planning, implementation, supervision and controlinorderto make sure that the best levels of the services required for the pilgrims of Allah's Inviolable House, Umrah performers and visitors of the Mosque of the Prophet, peace be upon him, are provided, whether by the government authorities that are directly or indirectly concerned with the provision of such services, or by the local establishments that are concerned with looking after the guests of the Most Merciful, and monitoring the field services that are provided to them.
To these general goals that are assumed by the Ministry are added detailed goals that include the following:
1.General supervision of the services provided to pilgrims and Umrah performers from their arrival in the land, air and sea outlets of the Kingdom, during their stay in the two Holy Cities, Makkah Al-Mukarramah and Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, and until their safe departure from the territory of the Kingdom.
2.Total supervision of the National Tawafa Establishments, the National Guides Establishment, the Unified Agents Office and the Unified Zamzamis Office; and seeking to develop the profession in a manner that is consistent with the present conditions and directives of the State.
3.Following up the preparation of the annual operation plans of the National Establishments for Hajj Affairs and developing them annually with a view to improving them and to upgrading the serving of pilgrims.
4.Complete supervision of the General Cars Syndicate and the Pilgrim Transport Companies that organize and provide the services connected with the transport of pilgrims arriving from abroad.
5.Coordination, with the various pilgrim missions, of all that concerns the serving of pilgrims and facilitating their task, with a view to overcoming all difficulties and obstacles that come the pilgrims' way and making their Hajj easy and comfortable.
6.Coordination with all government agencies that support the Hajj and Umrah activities, with a view to consolidating the efforts aimed at serving pilgrims and Umrah performers and seeking to make them comfortable; as well as participation in all seasonal committees comprised of the Ministry staff and staff from these agencies.
7.Considering the complaints of pilgrims and Umrah performers and their suggestions, in keeping with the services provided by the Ministry, with a view to improving same.
8.Considering the issues of National Establishments for Hajj Affairs and the service establishments, and dealing with the problems arising between the pilgrims and Umrah performers, on the one hand, and those in charge of serving them, on the other, through the competent authorities.
9. Issuing the Hajj and Umrah Magazine, which is considered an intellectual forum for local and visiting scholars and thinkers, and which is concerned with all matters pertaining to Hajj, pilgrims and Umrah performers; and issuing a visual magazine in the Hajj season.
10.Participating in the higher and central Hajj committees that are concerned with the planning and coordination of Hajj matters in general, with a view to issuing all regulations pertaining to the serving of the pilgrims of Allah's Inviolable House.
11.Total supervision of the services provided to local pilgrims and seeking to develop the service establishments that are licensed to serve this category of pilgrims in a manner that secures the ease and comfort of the performers of this sacred duty, both citizens and residents in the Kingdom.
12.Supervising the services provided to Umrah performers and regulating their matters, locally and abroad, through the companies and establishments that are licensed to serve Umrah performers.
13.Holding seminars and conferences in which prominent scholars and thinkers of the Arab and Islamic worlds participate.
14.Holding training courses for those involved in the field services.
15.Guiding and instructing pilgrims within the holy lands and issuing booklets, maps and films.
16.Drawing up a unified policy for Hajj missions, pilgrim representatives and the relevant consulates for organizing programs for the guidance of pilgrims before they leave their respective countries.
The Ministry no longer begins preparations for the Hajj season in the months of the Hajj season, as previously; it now rather begins its preparations immediately after the end of a season in preparation for the next one, in addition to its continuous activities throughout the year for the purpose of discharging its duties towards Umrah performers.
In the context of the changes and quantum leaps that are experienced by the whole world in using modern technology, the ease of the transmission of information, of transport and the opening of markets, which also applies to Islamic communities, some Islamic communities are still suffering from poverty, indigence and cultural backwardness. From such countries there arrive pilgrims and Umrah performers with a low level of cultural awareness, the majority of whom are old and disabled; they would have waited for years for their turn to perform the Hajj duty. The Ministry assumes the responsibility of continuing to provide the necessary services with a high degree of competence. On the other hand, there is a large category that have kept abreast with the progress of civilization and are well advanced in various fields; they are well aware of the distinctive and top services that are provided by tourist states and the comfort and dignified facilities that they can provide.
Such category of Hajj or Umrah performers come through tourist companies, at high cost. They have many requirements and are exacting in respect of the quality of services that are provided to them, beginning with the moment of application for a Hajj or Umrah visa. This has added to the responsibility of the Ministry the task of raising the standard of the services that are provided to pilgrims and Umrah performers and of making sure that the quality of the services that are provided to them by the various sectors that are under the supervision of the Ministry meet their expectations and are consistent with what they pay in return for such services. The Ministry also takes into account the aspirations of the private sector that seeks to increase its income and reduce its cost, and makes sure that these religious duties are not transformed into a commercial commodity.