Caution against illegal Haj agents

MUSCAT, March 11 – The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs has sounded a word of caution to all those intending to perform this year’s Haj pilgrimage, and advised them to enrol through authorised contractors only. Speaking to the Observer, Abdulaziz al Ghafri, Head of Oman Haj Mission, said that any deal stuck with any illegal contractors will be invalid, and they will be doing at their own risk. “We would like to caution all those intending to perform Haj this year to register online using the ministry’s portal, and not to fall prey to any unscrupulous individuals or groups posing to be Haj contractors,” he said.

Registration can be done either individually or through any authorised contractor or sanad centre. “If anyone offers you that he or she is going to take you for Haj as a contractor, please check their authenticity before paying money and beware with whom you’re dealing with.” He further said that the process of registration is simple, and anyone can do that. If there are any issues, they can call the ministry for assistance. There have been many complaints where illegal contractors duped Haj pilgrims from Oman with forged documents.

Last year, some Omani pilgrims were provided fake documents to the holy lands by some private agents, and were denied entry to Saudi Arabia after the authorities found that they were carrying forged licences. “A number of pilgrims who went to Saudi through unauthorised contractors have been denied entry to the holy lands at Al Batha border and sent back home.” The pilgrims then communicated with the mission which checked if they were registered and were confirmed that their names were not on the list of 11,200 pilgrims registered with the ministry. The ministry, in coordination with Public Prosecution, later initiated action against those agents who are found to be operating illegally.