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Published On: Sun, Oct 19th, 2014

Muttawifs ask Saudi govt to reconsider age limit

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Muttawifs are calling on the Haj Ministry to reconsider the decision of restricting the work of muttawifs to those below the age of 60 only. They argue that the decision taken earlier this year has prevented hundreds of muttawifs from carrying out their businesses, despite having decades of experience in the field.

According to Khaleel Bahadar, a member of the private Tawafa Institution of Arab pilgrims and head of the field group of the Egyptian pilgrims, it was a hasty decision but it has prevented many muttawifs above the age of sixty with valuable experience and expertise from providing services this year. He said the decision was made without discussing the matter with the muttawifs, who are the concerned party.

The decision comes in line with a process of evaluation being undertaken to improve services to pilgrims by the Haj Research Center which is conducting a study concerning the development of the Tawafa business and its regulatory organizations.

Bahadar said a better approach would be to evaluate the work of muttawifs at the end of each season instead of excluding them on the basis of age, because such services need years of cumulative experience.

Bahadur said the plan of the Haj Ministry to keep a large number of the pilgrims for a third day in order to decrease the congestion at the Holy Mosque, describing the plan as wise and effective. He said the organization received an overwhelming response by the pilgrimage affairs offices to keep pilgrims in Mina, especially those from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Sudan.

He said 40 percent of Arab pilgrims coming from abroad remained for a third day in Mina, while 60 percent left early after the second day.

He said the institution is seriously considering, in cooperation with the Ministry of Haj, to provide benefits and advantages to pilgrimage affairs offices that keep the largest number of pilgrims in Mina for the third day.

He stressed that there is always coordination and cooperation with pilgrimage affairs offices regarding the plans and programs for pilgrimage movement, as well as a range of training courses and workshops.

Movement schedules to Al-Jamrat Bridge take into account the requirements of the pilgrims’ departure times, he said, pointing out that these schedules were issued since the beginning of Dul Qadah to allow the pilgrimage affairs offices and muttawifs to alert pilgrims in advance about these schedules.

He denied claims that some pilgrims are left without housing in the holy sites camps, pointing out that the decision to reduce the number of pilgrims by 20 percent has contributed to the availability of suitable space for the pilgrims, and that there are no recorded cases of over-congestion or squatting at camps.

The institution is particularly interested in providing highly developed services to pilgrims, said Bahadur, as well as increasing coordination with the pilgrimage affairs offices and all relevant authorities to improve services.

(Source: Arab News)


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