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Saudi Arabia

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if she will raise the case of Mr. Rafiq Gorji, his late wife and the safety of Hajj pilgrimage travel with the Saudi authorities. (129860)

Following the bus crash near Rabigh in Saudi Arabia on 9 December 2006 when three British nationals—including Mr Gorji's wife— died, our ambassador in Riyadh met the Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj on 10 February and raised the issue of travel safety for pilgrims during the Hajj.

The Minister explained that new measures to improve travel safety would be introduced from next year. These would include:

a requirement that each bus must have two drivers;

a ban to be introduced on all buses carrying pilgrims between Mecca and Medina, after 11 pm; and

the development of a new train project between Mecca and Medina.

The safety of British nationals abroad is a priority for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we welcome these new initiatives.