Pilgrims begin arriving by sea, first vessel docks in Jeddah

The first pilgrim vessel MAWADDAH arrived from Sudan and docked at the Jeddah seaport on Friday. — Courtesy photo

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The arrival of Haj pilgrims from across the globe through different modes of transport has intensified. Haj pilgrims, who have been arriving by air and land in droves, have started to arrive in Kingdom by sea.

The Jeddah sea port, the oldest and only entry point for pilgrims for long decades, still is in operation though it has lost its past glory with the passage of time and widely available aviation services.

Some thousands of pilgrims are still using the waterway to reach Makkah, and Sudan is primarily the country from where pilgrims sail to Jeddah for Haj.

Jeddah Islamic port is the third largest entry point for pilgrims after King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah.

Jeddah Islamic Port has begun to receive pilgrims coming by the sea route and it has received its first batch of 480 pilgrims on Friday evening, according to Haj Ministry officials.

The port received the first pilgrim vessel MAWADDAH on Friday from Sudan, though it ferried non-pilgrim passengers also.

The pilgrims, upon docking, were greeted by Haj and Umrah Ministry Jeddah director Marwan Sulaimani and Sudan Consul General Awad Hussain Zarouk.

This year, the port has made arrangements to receive more than 18,000 pilgrims from Sudan through 30 passenger vessels, according to Capt. Abdullah Al Zalili, director general of Jeddah Port.

The pilgrims were thoroughly checked for health issues — mainly infectious diseases — by Ministry of Health professionals who were stationed at seaport.

The Health Ministry has also set up health surveillance centers under leadership of assistant director of health Alaa Punjabi Nashwan Bin Abdullah and other senior officials of ministry.

Health officials are vigilant as they detected one case of contagious disease of cholera last week in a Sudanese passenger at the port.

Besides numerous health, passport and seaport employees, the authorities have also deployed 8 fire brigades, 3 ambulances and host of security staff to deal with any emergency situation at the seaport.

Suakin is the main port in Sudan that transports Haj pilgrims to Jeddah. It was formerly Africa’s one of the main port, but later it become a secondary to Port Sudan, which is main link for transporting passengers to Jeddah.