SEPANG: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar today departed for Saudi Arabia to undertake an official visit and perform the haj pilgrimage.

He was accompanied by Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) chairman Tan Sri Rashid Hussain, TH chief executive officer Syed Hamadah Syed Othman and Department of Wakaf, Zakat and Haj (JAWHAR) deputy director-general Md Ramzi Ishak, and will be in the Holy Land until June 20.

Mohd Na’im said the focus of this official visit is to personally observe the Masyair operations (the peak of the haj rituals in Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina) conducted by TH and to interact with Malaysian pilgrims.

He said that his department has also received an invitation from the Saudi Arabian government to attend the Grand Haj Symposium, scheduled for next Monday at the Conference Hall, Makkah Chamber, which would be attended by ministers responsible for haj affairs from various countries.

“Through this symposium, it is hoped that the cooperation between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, particularly between TH, JAWHAR and the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah, will be strengthened.

“During the symposium, there will be meetings and discussions to review the preparations made by the haj and umrah authorities and other agencies involved in managing pilgrims from around the world,” he told reporters before departing for Saudi Arabia from Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 1 last night.

Mohd Na’im added that he would be staying at Abraj Al-Janadriyah Hotel, which also serves as TH headquarters in Makkah, to facilitate his interactions with the pilgrims and ensure their welfare is taken care of.

He also said that so far, 93 per cent or 29,483 Malaysian pilgrims have arrived in the Holy Land.

The remaining seven per cent or 2,117 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia by this Sunday.

Mohd Na’im boarded flight KT097 along with 283 pilgrims and departed at 12.45 am.