Saudi launches web portal for pilgrimage services
Saudi authorities launched a web portal Monday, July 9, to speed up the paperwork for Muslims registering to take part in round-the-year pilgrimages to Islamic holiest sites.
"Bab Al-Umra will facilitate the ministry of hajj's supervision of the performance of local Umra establishments and their foreign agents and the quality of services being provided to visiting pilgrims," portal manager Tareq Hefni said.
The portal will also set the mechanisms and create channels through which visas, reservations, bookings, fares and relevant information could be exchanged between all parties, Hefni said.
The portal, hosted by Alamiah Internet and Communications Co., will be the Saudi government's first foray into e-governance, he added.
In April, Saudi authorities began issuing one-month visas to Muslims performing Umra mini-pilgrimage to allow them to stay on in the kingdom for tourism purposes.
They said they expect more than two million people to visit the kingdom annually to perform Umra under the new system. Another two million, including Saudis, take part in the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)