Saudi Hajj Ministry announces insurance for pilgrims

Muslim pilgrims queue for passport control at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on July 7, 2019, prior to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca. (AFP)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Saudi Hajj Ministry announces insurance for pilgrims

  • Announcement comes as part of the Vision 2030 reform plan
  • Insurance will cover emergency cases, accidents and repatriation of the remains of pilgrims who die in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has announced insurance for pilgrims coming from outside the kingdom, as part of its Vision 2030 reform plan, according to state media.

Hajj and Umrah Minister, Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten signed an agreement with Tawuniya Chairman Sulaiman Al-Humaid at the Hajj and Umrah Ministry’s headquarters in Makkah on Wednesday.

Under the agreement, the ministry will provide health and other insurance services to pilgrims from the time they arrive in the Kingdom until they leave.

The insurance scheme comes as part of the Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to enhance pilgrims’ experiences, said Minister Benten.

Tawuniya was tapped by the Hajj and Umrah Ministry in consultation with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the Health Insurance Council, he added.

The insurance will be linked to the visa as soon as the pilgrim arrives in Saudi Arabia, he said. There will be a hotline, and pilgrims will be served by teams who speak multiple languages.

Ayman Al-Arfaj, general supervisor of the ministry’s media center, said the insurance will cost SR189 per person, which will be paid to the insurance company and will cover 30 days, the total stay of a pilgrim in Saudi Arabia.

He said that insurance will be unified for all pilgrims and will cover emergency cases, accidents and repatriation of the remains of pilgrims who die in Saudi Arabia. A pilgrim automatically gets insurance once the visa is issued.

Pilgrims in need of health assistance can avail themselves of the insurance benefit by presenting their passports at any hospital or clinic under the Saudi Ministry of Health or any private hospital and clinic accredited by the Health Insurance Council, Al-Arfaj said.

Abdulaziz bin Hadsan Al-Bouq, CEO of Tawuniya, which has been awarded the contract for four years, said the Kingdom is developing innovative methods to provide health services and reduce accidents at holy sites.

This project, he added, is supported by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and each insurance covers an amount of SR100,000 ($26,665) per person.

Al-Arfaj noted that since the start of the Umrah season in October, a total of 1,518,649 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom.


TheFace: Noor Balfaqeeh, PR head at Saudi National Center for Performance Measurement

Updated 14 min 4 sec ago

TheFace: Noor Balfaqeeh, PR head at Saudi National Center for Performance Measurement

My upbringing influenced my choice of career and determined the things that I am passionate about. As a purpose-driven person, I find meaning in everything I do and turn it into the fuel that keeps me moving.

Born in Jeddah and raised in Madinah, I was the eldest child in the family home which put me at the forefront of responsibility. Looking after my siblings and helping my mother with chores, taught me how to depend on myself and care about others.

I grew up in a house close to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which turned it into a motel-like destination, where we would receive friends and relatives from all over the world. I also remember that we used to free-up two rooms of the house every Hajj season to host pilgrims, and this awakened a sense of giving in me.

As a teenager, I helped my father in his work, mainly writing and publishing books. I also assisted him in his genealogy work, which is the study of families and tracing lineages.

Besides enjoying my time with the non-stop guests and playing with my sisters, school was the biggest joy of my life. When I did not come first in my class, I would be second.

In 1994, I graduated from high school as one of the top 10 students and would have gone to engineering college if it had been available for girls. Instead, I studied at King Abdul Aziz University from where I gained a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. I later obtained a master’s degree in translation from the University of Birmingham.

My husband is a great man. Ever since I left my parents’ house, he has been my partner, a great father to our children, my mentor and above all my soul mate. Together we have been on a quest to find a good life together and aid the development of each other.

I am a mother of four beautiful jewels; two of them are adults and are out of the nest studying abroad. The other two little girls are the joy of my life and we are enjoying life’s adventures together.

I am the head of public relations and communication at the National Center for Performance Measurement (Adaa). Joining Adaa in 2018 was an adventurous move and a life-changing decision. I had to move to Riyadh with my family after spending five years as head of communications and sustainable business at multi-national company Unilever, in Jeddah.

My career in public relations and communications started in 2007 at Effat University.

The qualities that were deeply embedded in me for helping and serving others came to good use when I became a certified consultant of Birkman psychometric assessment.

WildFit Arabia is another project that I am working on with two of my dear friends. The program is a unique nutritional and lifestyle challenge that helps people to maintain a healthy weight and lead a healthy lifestyle.

I am also translating a book by a scientist and scholar who changed my life when I attended many of his workshops.

My journey of self-exploration started in 2011 and paved the way for many positive changes in my life on professional, personal, social and spiritual levels. I am a resilient person who is filled with peace and love for everyone and everything.

My biggest achievement was to holistically stabilize myself emotionally, socially and professionally, something which allowed me to become better in all aspects of my life.

Every morning I meditate and remind myself, “I am full of hope and gratitude, I am determined to give and serve, I am full of confidence that I am better in every role I play in this life.”

The motto I stand by is: Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better. So, I know that even the sky is not my limit and with good intention I will continue positively impacting the lives of whoever crosses my path.