First batch of Haj pilgrims arrive

Pilgrims from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh welcomed with traditional hospitality


JEDDAH — Marking the beginning of the Haj Season of 2018, foreign pilgrims began arriving in the Kingdom on Saturday (July 14 /Dhul Qada 1), with the first batch of pilgrims arriving from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

On Saturday, a Biman Airlines plane, carrying Bangladeshi pilgrims, landed at the Haj and Umrah terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport while a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from New Delhi and a Pakistan International Airlines plane from Karachi touched down at Prince Muhammad International Airport Madinah.

The Ministry of Haj and Umrah officials were on hand to receive the first Haj flight this year 1439H arriving from Pakistan Saturday morning in Madinah with 321 pilgrims on board.

This was followed Saturday by some 30 Haj flights carrying pilgrims of various nationalities amid a system of integrated services being provided by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

The pilgrims were welcomed warmly with Ajwa dates and Madinah roses, a sign of deep-rooted generous Saudi hospitality for the Guests of Allah.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah for Ziyarah Affairs in Madinah and Supervisor General of the Electronic Track for Overseas Pilgrims Muhammad Bin Abdulrahman Al-Bijawi said the ministry is exerting its utmost efforts in carrying out the strategies and plans so as to upgrade its services to facilitate matters for the pilgrims and enable them to perform their rites with ease and peace of mind.

The first Haj flight from New Delhi, India carrying 410 Hajis arrived at Madinah airport today at 1.56 p.m., an hour earlier than scheduled time. The pilgrims were welcomed by Indian Ambassador Ahmad Javed and Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh. The Deputy Consul General and Consul (Haj) Mohd Shahid Alam was also present.

King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah received on Saturday via its Haj Terminal the first Haj flight coming from Bangladesh with 419 pilgrims on board.

The flight’s passengers were received by the Deputy President of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) Sulaiman Bin Hamad Al-Bassam; the Director General of KAIA Issam Fuad and a number of officials of the government and operation sectors working in the airport.

Pakistan's Haj operation Director General Haj Sajid Yousufani, Deputy Director Farooq Rasheed, Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia PIA Country Manager Waqar Naseer, and Saudi Haj officials received the pilgrims at the airport.

Another 186 pilgrims reached the King Abdul Aziz Airport Jeddah from Islamabad through PK-741. Pakistani Consulate Officers welcomed them at Jeddah airport. Director Haj Mohammad Imtiaz, Consul Fauzia Fayyaz Ahmed, Minister Coordination Javed Rafiq, HOC Atif Dar, welcomed the Haj pilgrims.

Saudi Deputy Minister Haj Abdullah Al-Fataah, Chairman Moassassa Dr. Raaf-iBadar, Chairman Maktabul Wukala, Dr. Farooq Bukhari, DG Haj Marwan Sulemani and other Saudi officials were also present on this occasion.

On this occasion, pilgrims were offered Zamzam water, dates and prayer mats by the Saudi authorities. In total 1,84,210 Pakistanis will come to Saudi Arabia for Haj-2018 in more than 450 flights. Pakistan's

A total of 6,072 Haj flights will be operated, of which 3,383 will be through the Jeddah airport and 2,689 through the Madinah airport.

All pilgrims from Malaysia and a section of pilgrims from Indonesia will have their immigration pre-clearance facility from their embarkation points for this year’s Haj. The Proof of Concept (POC) System for pre-clearance at the point of departure to Saudi Arabia is being implemented in coordination with the Saudi, Malaysian and Indonesian authorities.

The uniform electronic path service dubbed ‘Makkah Road Service’ will be launched from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette prior to the arrival of the pilgrims, Sheikh the first Haj flight from India to Jeddah will be on July 29 and there will be 420 pilgrims on board the Air India flight from Chennai.

He said that a total of 234 flights will be operated to transport 67,302 pilgrims to Madinah and 209 flights to Jeddah to carry 61,400 pilgrims. He said that the Indian Haj Mission has linked all its hospitals and branch dispensaries in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah as well as at the Jeddah airport Haj terminal with an online software system for the first time.

Sheikh noted that a total of 1,300 women pilgrims are coming for Haj without a mahram (male blood relative) for this year’s Haj for the first time. Anticipating high temperature during Haj, the Indian Mission has made arrangements to supply tri-colored umbrellas with “India” written on both sides to every pilgrim, he added.