CAIRO: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim and State Security chief Khaled Tharwat have arrived in Saudi Arabia to gather with Muslims around the world on the first day of the Hajj pilgrimage, MENA reported Thursday.
The Arafat Day will be Friday, as pilgrims climb Mount Arafat, the most important ritual of the Hajj ahead of Eid al-Adha.
In related news, Egyptian Hajj mission official Shaker al-Kayal denied news reported Wednesday by Saudi news sources that a fire had erupted among pilgrim tents near Mount Arafat, Youm7 reported Thursday.
A total of 62,100 Egyptians have so far traveled to Mecca in three different Hajj missions organized by the government this season, including a pilgrimage chosen by lottery, a mission by the Ministry of Tourism and another by the Ministry of Solidarity, according to Kayal on Sept. 29, Al-Wafd reported.
At least 15 Egyptian hajjis have died from natural causes this year, most above the age of 50, Youm7 reported Wednesday.
As for the costs of the Hajj pilgrimage, the Ministry of Tourism reported the minimum travel cost was 26,000 EGP ($3,635) per person, including flight tickets and cost of stay fees, which is a reduced price compared to previous years, Mostafa Abdullatif, a Hajj mission official, told Al-Ahram Thursday.
The Hajj pilgrimages organized by the Egyptian government usually cover hotel stays, as the starting prices announced by the Egyptian Travel Agents Association (ETAA) for those who wish to stay in five-star hotels start at 47,000 EGP per person, excluding the cost of travel.
Additional reporting by Ibrahim Ahmed, Medhat Wahba, Mahmoud Abdel Ghany and Mervat Rashad.