Syrian Endowments Ministry: This year’s Hajj and Umrah will be through Damascus
The Syrian regime’s Ministry of Endowments announced its agreement with Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj and Umrah season to be through Damascus and under its supervision.
According to the ministry’s official accounts today, Wednesday, January 10, the mentioned agreement came after the meeting of the Minister of Endowments in the Syrian government, Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed, with the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, in Jeddah, in the presence of the newly appointed Damascus ambassador in Riyadh, Ayman Susan, and the Assistant Minister of Endowments, Hassan Nasrallah.
The joint preparatory committees between the two ministries will discuss the necessary logistical procedures for Syrian pilgrims and Umrah performers.
No announcement has been issued by Saudi Arabia until the publishing of this news regarding handing over the Hajj file to the Ministry of Endowments in the Syrian regime government or signing an agreement in this regard.
The Saudi Minister of Hajj, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, usually supervises the signing of the Hajj protocol with the Minister of Endowments of the signing state. Al-Rabiah signed the Hajj protocol during the past week with the ministers of endowments of several countries, including Turkey, Palestine, Yemen, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Memorandum of Understanding
On Tuesday, January 9, the Assistant Minister of Endowments in Syria, Hassan Nasrallah, signed a memorandum of understanding with one of the Saudi companies that provides Hajj services for pilgrims from Arab countries, including hosting, food catering, transportation, and others.
The Saudi company is one of the companies licensed by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj to serve pilgrims.
There were rumors circulated on Syrian social media accounts that the Ministry of Hajj in Saudi Arabia signed a protocol for handing over the management of the Hajj file with the regime’s Ministry of Endowments.
The Minister of Endowments, Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed, participated in the opening of the Hajj and Umrah Services conference and exhibition held in Jeddah, which continues until tomorrow and includes many sessions and workshops on all the details and services that concern pilgrims.
On the sidelines of the conference, al-Sayyed met with the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance in Saudi Arabia, Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh.
Managed by the Supreme Hajj Committee since 2013
Since 2013, the Supreme Hajj Committee affiliated with the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Syrian National Coalition) has been managing the Hajj file in coordination with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj, with the suspension of diplomatic relations until their return last year between Saudi Arabia and the Syrian regime.
On January 8, the Supreme Hajj Committee issued a statement confirming that it is making intensive contacts with Saudi Arabia to keep the file of Hajj for Syrians in its hands, which it has been managing for ten years.
The committee said that, “It is following up on contacts with the relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia so that it can continue serving pilgrims in Syria and abroad and help them perform the religious ritual with ease.”
The committee pointed out that it has worked over the past years to provide all available resources to serve pilgrims without discrimination based on their different sects, customs, regions, or political and intellectual orientations.
After the return of relations between Damascus and Riyadh and the meeting of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, with the President of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, in Jeddah in May 2023 during the Arab Summit, speculations increased about the return of the Hajj file to the Syrian government.
Despite the repeated condemnation and objections from the regime’s Ministry of Endowments every year, after assigning the file to the Syrian opposition or the tightening on pilgrims departing from regime-controlled areas, Saudi Arabia’s decision was not changed.
In previous statements to Enab Baladi, the director of the Supreme Hajj Committee, Samer Bayrakdar, said, “The Syrian Supreme Hajj Committee has been managing the Syrian Hajj file for ten years, and we will continue, God willing, to serve Syria’s pilgrims,” adding that the management of the Supreme Hajj Committee remains balanced in the Hajj file, making it an exceptional religious file in which it has not discriminated against any components of the Syrian people.
Bayrakdar believes that Saudi Arabia knows well that if the Hajj file is handed over to the regime, it will deprive more than half of the Syrian people of the opportunity to think about the Hajj.
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