FNC seeks cap on regular Haj pilgrims

FNC seeks cap on regular Haj pilgrims

Abu Dhabi - Many first-timers' applications had been rejected, and the approval of regular pilgrims could be the reason

By Jasmine Al Kuttab

Published: Wed 7 Jun 2017, 10:53 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Jun 2017, 12:55 AM

A session of Federal National Council (FNC) on Tuesday highlighted the need for giving priority to first-time applicants for Haj.
During a meeting under the presidency of Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the FNC, at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, a member of the FNC, Marwan Ahmed bin Ghalaita, said he has received complaints from the first-timers whose applications had been rejected, highlighting that the approval of regular pilgrims could be the reason.
Dr Al Kaabi told reporters on the sideline of the FNC session that a number of applicants were denied chances to go for Haj.
"We are waiting for approval to limit the repetitive applicants because there are so many first timers who wish to perform Haj."
"I have received comments from Emiratis who said the Haj missions denied their applications. Many of the approved applications are of those that have already been to the Haj," he said.
Al Ghalaita asked the session whether there has been a heavy mix-up with the applications. "Many women that are first-timers were accepted, but their 'mahrams' (kins) were rejected, so how can the women travel without them?"
"Is there a procedure in the system that verifies whether or not applicants are first-timers or not?" he asked Dr Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, the chairman of general authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf).
Dr Al Kaabi said the Awqaf has launched an e-system where pilgrims receive permits directly online, instead of having to go through the traditional Haj mission agency.
He highlighted that although 17,500 applications were received this year, priority was giving to first-timers, as well as the elderly, adding that all the approved applicants are Emiratis, and that none are expats.
"Out of all the applications we received, 13,000 were first-timers and 6,228 Emiratis have been approved. The priority is also given to applicants that are 60 years and above," he added.
Early this year, the Awqaf said it would only be issuing permits to Emiratis and that expats must apply for Haj in their home countries, which is in line with the instructions from the Ministry of Haj in Saudi Arabia.
Last year, the Haj missions in the UAE approved 4,631 Emiratis and 351 expats.
Approved 80% first-time applications: Awqaf chief
According to Dr Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, the chairman of general authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf), repetitive applicants for Haj are only 12 per cent compared to 88 per cent of first-time pilgrims.
In his reply to a question from Ahmed bin Ghalaita, a member of the Federal National Council, Al Kaabi stressed that there has not been a mix-up in the application system, and the Awqaf received a larger number of applications this year.
"Everyone applies online, and this year we received more applications than before, which shows that our procedure is thorough and affective."
However, Al Ghalaita said that more first time applicants should be given the chance to perform Haj. "I hope the approved applications of the repetitive pilgrims are not affecting those that need to go for their first time and that something can be done to fix this," added Al Ghalaita.

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