Hajj Gatecrashers In Trouble


Tough sanctions have been announced by the Saudi authorities against Hajj gatecrashers for this year’s season, preparations for which have already began across the world, including Ghana.

According to the February 23, 2024 online issue of the Gulfnews quoting the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, “performing Hajj without obtaining necessary permits is illegal and attracts a fine of 50,000 Saudi riyals.

“Additionally, individuals caught transporting pilgrims without proper permits will also be slapped with a fine of up to SR 50,000.”

Expatriates on the other hand found guilty of such violations will be jailed for six months, followed by deportation from Saudi Arabia and a ten-year ban from re-entering the Kingdom.

Those violating the Hajj regulations will face public discreditation through media channels, the ministry stressed.

Controlling the number of persons performing the Hajj at any given season, according to the Saudi authorities, is intended to “ensure the smooth operation of this system.”

A collaboration between the General Directorate of Passports and the Saudi authorities will ensure the enforcement of the aforementioned “severe consequences for individuals found to be violating Hajj regulations.”

In the past few years, the incidence of such visa abuse by Ghanaians among other nationalities has been on the rise.

The Ghana Hajj Board, the only body charged with the responsibility of managing the annual Islamic pilgrimage, while announcing the commencement of the season a few months ago warned against the abuse of visa by some Ghanaian Muslims who obtain tourist, lesser Hajj and business entry authorisations but use same for Hajj.

Over three million perform the Hajj every year and to obviate stampedes and related challenges, the Saudi authorities assign quotas to various countries.

Ghana’s quota this year is 4,000, but this could be reviewed upwards when applicants go beyond the figure.

Even Saudi nationals must be authorised to perform the annual ritual before they can do so.

In Ghana, some persons because of the cost variations between the Hajj cost and the tourist and business visas opt for the latter but sneak in to perform the Hajj in breach of Saudi law.

Such gatecrashers sneak into the facilities meant for Ghanaian pilgrims who entered the Kingdom genuinely to perform the Hajj, creating avoidable logistics challenges for the Ghana Hajj Board.

The Hajj Board provides two meals for pilgrims while they are in Saudi Arabia, medical facilities and hotel, and tend accommodation in the course of the pilgrimage.

Aside such visa violators, illegal Ghanaian immigrants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also sneak into the Ghana Hajj Board acquired facilities, a situation which compounds the challenges already created by the non-Hajj visa holders.

This year, the abuse of the tent city facilities at Mina will be checked by new measures to be adopted by the service providers in Saudi Arabia, the Ghana Hajj Board announced during its recent press conference to herald the commencement of the Hajj season.

Payments for this year’s Hajj have already commenced, the deadline for the acceptance of such payments set for mid-March.

Payments of GH¢75,000 for the Hajj package which includes flight to and from Saudi Arabia, bus services in the Kingdom, medical attention, meals and accommodation should be paid through 42 accredited agents across the country, or directly through a Ghana Hajj Board Stanbic account or through a Ghana Hajj app.

By A.R. Gomda