KUWAIT CITY, June 9: Even though the Hajj season is fast approaching, the leaders of Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs have not been able to avoid the problems that have been repeatedly occurring every year, especially the issues relating to allocation of quota of Kuwaiti and expatriate pilgrims and the costs of the pilgrimage. According to an informed source from Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, the ministry is unable to adjust the costs of Hajj and Umra trips because “the market controls this issue”.
He said the prices, which start from KD 1,800, include the cost of stay and visiting the holy places. He revealed that the ministry conducted a survey to compare Kuwait’s prices of Hajj pilgrimage with the international and Gulf prices, and it discovered that Kuwait’s prices are the cheapest
The source explained that, 7,400 Kuwaiti citizens, 500 expatriates and 500 Bedoun residents will be going on the Hajj pilgrimage this year, according to Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. Every caravan will have eight seats each for expatriates and Bedoun residents. He indicated that meetings are being held to increase the number of seats for Bedoun pilgrims to 1,250.
The source stressed that the issuance of Hajj visa is not the sole responsibility of Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs but it is also shared by four authorities which are Ministry of Interior, Saudi Embassy in Kuwait, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the caravan owners. He explained that the issuance of visas for Bedoun pilgrims depends on the completion of lengthy procedures carried out for issuing passports by the Department of Passports and Residency Affairs. If these procedures are simplified, the issuance of visas for Bedoun pilgrims will become easier.
The source affirmed that Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has directed the managers of caravans and preachers to avoid political and sectarian talks and speeches and urged them to focus on talks and speeches related to unity. He said there are 50 caravans for Hajj and Umra this year, adding that the allocated number of pilgrims can be changed if the quota is changed.
By Abdulnasser Al-Aslami Al-Seyassah Staff