A first batch of 10,000 Egyptian pilgrims will receive their visas today before traveling to Mecca in Saudi Arabia late this month to perform the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.
According to Tourism Ministry Undersecretary Osama el-Ashry, there are roughly 18,000 additional passports currently on file with the Ministry of Interior awaiting visa stamps. Some 2000 passports have been rejected, meanwhile, for containing insufficient data.
El-Ashry said his ministry would soon provide all information requested by the Saudi Arabian consulate regarding pilgrims’ accommodations in Saudi Arabia. “We were a bit late with this because we changed their accommodations from apartments to hotels in Mecca so as to avoid having to wait for more permits from the Saudi authorities,” he explained.
Ministry Undersecretary Abdel Aziz Hassan said the ministry’s hajj committee was working “24-hours-a-day” to complete all pilgrims’ travel procedures.
Nasser Turki, vice-president of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association (ETAA), said that hotel rates in Mecca had risen considerably in advance of the pilgrimage season.
According to Bassel el-Sisi, president of the ETAA’s economic committee, the association has submitted a letter of guarantee — in the amount of 1.5 million Saudi Arabian riyals — to the Saudi authorities for the accommodation of Egyptian pilgrims.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.