ISLAMABAD - Saudi Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar said that this Haj season will witness the last reduction in the number of pilgrims following completion of expansion work inside the Grand Mosque.

"Starting from next Haj season, the number of pilgrims will increase to five million and then to 30 million in the coming five years," the minister was quoted as saying to a local publication.

He said all efforts were made to make this year's Haj outstanding and distinguished compared to previous seasons, Arab news reported.

"Such efforts include the establishment and operation of a unified electronic system for pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom through which all tasks and functions linked with arrival procedures are executed and documented, such as the contracts and packages of services offered, transport and accommodation, in addition to the names of the pilgrims," he added.

He said the Haj Ministry coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to grant or issue Haj visas for any person only through the unified electronic system. "As for internal pilgrims, the ministry also established an electronic system which allows citizens and residents to file applications requesting permits. Through the Haj service provider of his choice, and to select the service segments he wants and pay electronically the value of the services provided."