(MENAFN - Arab News) Egyptian authorities have taken steps to bring Haj and Umrah affairs under a single authority to streamline Haj operations in the country.
"The proposed independent commission will solve organizational difficulties related to the pilgrimage," a source with links to the pilgrims' affairs told Arab News. The Ministry of Interior handled pilgrims' affairs until now.
Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Juma, who would head the proposed organization General Commission for Haj and Umrah, had a meeting with all departments related to Haj and Umrah recently. The meeting decided to set up a committee to draft the bylaws of the commission in 15 days, the source said.
The draft copy of the bylaws and statutes would be submitted to the Cabinet and the National Assembly for approval and implementation, the source said.
The objective of the commission is to regulate and monitor Haj and other pilgrim activities and remove any difficulty for workers in the sector and ensure that Haj operators are mostly citizens of the country, the source said.
The Interior Ministry's withdrawal from the sector would by no means harm the interests of Haj pilgrims, he said.
The Interior Ministry used to receive 30,000 Haj visas annually while other ministries and private agencies received the remaining 55,000 visas allotted to Egypt, apart from more than 1,400,000 Umrah visas annually.
The source said the commission would be constituted with members from the ministries of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Social Affairs, Tourism, Civil Aviation, Interior, Transport and Communications.
"The move to set up an independent commission for Egyptian pilgrims is an excellent way to ensure better service to pilgrims at all levels," said Jameel Al-Qarshi, chairman of the Saudi National Committee for Haj and Umrah.
He said the unification of pilgrim services under a single organization in that country would simplify communication and cooperation to solve any problems related to pilgrims. He added that countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia already have single organizations to deal with pilgrims' affairs.