Umrah traffic 'will increase to 10m'
The number of Umrah pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia is expected to reach 10 million a year within the next five to seven years, according to Haj Minister Iyad Madani."Efforts are being made to meet this large increase in the number of pilgrims and provide them with necessary facilities," Madani told a meeting at the Saudi embassy in London. He said the Kingdom would allow any number of Umrah pilgrims under the new system enforced by the Haj Ministry. In the past, the number of Umrah pilgrims was between 1.5 million and 1.6 million annually. The new system allows longer periods of stay for the pilgrims to give them time to visit historical places outside the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Under the new system, a number of Saudi firms are licensed to provide various services to the pilgrims under the supervision of the Haj Ministry officials.