A history of devoted tradition holds firm in Makkah

Time: 30 July, 2020

  • Historians, geographers and painters preserve the past 150 years of Makkah’s history

MAKKAH: Historians, geographers and painters have all contributed to the preservation of the history of the Two Holy Mosques, conveying the urban, cultural and human heritage in all its manifestations and archaeological treasures.

Arab News took a trip through the 150 years of Makkah’s history to review the images that have found their place in the memory of the world.

Dr. Khadran Al-Thubaiti, former professor of geography at Umm Al-Qura University, said that the role of geographers is not so much in historical aspects as in natural, urban and civilizational aspects.

“The relationship between history and geography is close because the temporal dimension and the spatial dimension go hand in hand,” he said.

He explained that historians have played a major role in documenting the development and change witnessed in Makkah and the Grand Mosque area since the migration of the Prophet until the present.

The relationship between history and geography is close because the temporal dimension and the spatial dimension go hand in hand.

Dr. Khadran Al-Thubaiti, former professor of geography at Umm Al-Qura University

“No one can deny the prominent role that Al-Azraqi, Al-Fakihi, Al-Fassi and other (historians) have played in mapping the history and geography of Makkah,” said Al-Thubaiti.

Dr. Abdullah bin Hussein Al-Sharif, supervisor of the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Chair for Makkah Historical Studies, told Arab News that Makkah occupies a special religious and spiritual place in the hearts of Muslims, and has received the attention of Islamic countries from the time of Prophet Muhammad and caliphs through to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which vigorously serves the pilgrims and visitors.

Al-Sharif said that in the Saudi era the Two Holy Mosques received special care from the great founder King Abdul Aziz, who was eager to reconstruct and develop them and provide the best services to the pilgrims.

“Historians, travelers, geographers, painters, writers and photographers have taken care to document the history of the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrimages, Umrah and visits, as well as the efforts of Islamic countries to serve pilgrims,” Al-Sharif said.

Al-Sharif explained that the series of images that span nearly 150 years clearly illustrates the historical transition and civilizational development that Saudi Arabia has witnessed and the services it has offered, as well as the great amount of money and unparalleled effort that it has generously provided in the service of Islam and Muslims.

“The main goal of the Kingdom, during the reign of its founder King Abdul Aziz and his righteous sons, the kings of the Kingdom after him, Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd and Abdullah, was to take care of the Two Holy Mosques and provide pilgrims and visitors with the best of services so that they could perform their rituals with ease and comfort. King Salman followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and pursued this matter with vigor, drawing attention, in all his meetings and speeches, to the Kingdom’s keenness to proudly serve the pilgrims,” he said.

Al-Sharif added: “Vision 2030 is a national reform plan introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to develop the Kingdom. It represents the continuation of the government’s efforts and the major Saudi achievements in general, and in the Two Holy Mosques in particular. It reflects a great qualitative leap towards comprehensive sustainable development, progress and global leadership.”

He said that the Kingdom’s founder initiated various works to further develop the holy site “such constructing the Kiswa Factory of the Holy Kaaba in Makkah, building a door for the Kaaba, lighting, maintaining and painting the square of the Mosque, tiling and shading the Masaa area (the running course between Safa and Marwa), advising the expansion of the Two Holy Mosques.”

These epic efforts culminated in the expansion of the Grand Mosque in three phases, he said.  The first phase of the expansion was ordered by King Abdul Aziz and took place during the reign of King Saud and was completed during the reign of King Faisal.

“The second expansion, which took place during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, included the addition to the Grand Mosque of the historic Souq Al-Hazoora area, known as the Souq Al- Sagheer. Other modern developments were added, such as squares, escalators and the circumambulation areas (Mataf).”

The third expansion, the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in history, began in the reign of King Abdullah and is continuing in the reign of King Salman. “It raised the capacity of the Grand Mosque, Mataf and Masaa to nearly 3 million worshippers, allowing them to perform the Hajj and Umrah rituals with comfort and ease.”

Historians have taken care to document the history of the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrimages, Umrah and visits, as well as the efforts of Islamic countries to serve pilgrims.

Dr. Abdullah bin Hussein Al-Sharif, supervisor of the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Chair for Makkah Historical Studies

Al-Sharif explained that the three expansions are part of a system of facilities, works, projects and services to be carried out in the two holy cities and the holy sites, with the aim of providing integrated infrastructure, such as water networks through desalination plants and giant strategic reservoirs, electricity and drainage systems, environmental health and municipal services.

“The development projects also aim to offer adequate housing for visitors and pilgrims,” he said.

Al-Sharif said that modern sea ports, airports, roads, bridges, communications and trains, including the Haramain high-speed railway project and the holy sites project are being executed.

The Saudi leadership also took care of building the Mawaqit, entry points for pilgrims on Hajj roads and the holy sites mosques, including the Al-Khayf Mosque in Mina, the Al-Mashaar Al-Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah, the Mosque of Nimara in Arafat, and the historical mosques such as Al-Ijaba, Al-Raya and Al-Jinn mosques.

Al-Sharif stated that the Kingdom was keen to preserve the health of pilgrims and built medical cities, hospitals and health centers in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites, providing medical services free of charge.

“The Kingdom has proven throughout its history its ability to host millions of visitors and manage crowds efficiently with its generous hospitality and services. It looks forward to receiving about 35  million pilgrims each year through its Vision 2030 projects,” he said.

He added: “The most important thing is to enable visitors and pilgrims to perform their rituals in a safe and healthy environment. The Kingdom was able to achieve this goal, enabling worshippers to perform their Hajj and Umrah ritual in security, peace, comfort and tranquility from their entry into the Kingdom and until they leave.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Then and now: the shifting role of the pilgrims’ guide in Makkah

Time: 22 July, 2020

  • While the services guides provide are as important as ever, the nature of their relationship with pilgrims has, by necessity, changed

MAKKAH: When the pilgrimage season begins, pilgrims’ guides temporarily leave behind their regular jobs and professional titles to serve visitors of all nationalities. It is a solemn and blessed role that many Makkans inherited from their parents and grandparents.

The male and female guides find comfort and pleasure in serving pilgrims, despite the lack of financial reward. They consider their service an honor they are granted each year.

Dr. Talal Qutub, for example, normally works as an internal medicine consultant. He said that he has been blessed to serve pilgrims since early childhood, inheriting the job from his family. They cultivated within him the love of pilgrims and caring for them, from the moment they arrive in Makkah until they depart.

He said that there is a mutual love, appreciation and respect between pilgrims and their guides, and to the guides those feelings are like the oxygen they breathe.

Qutub stated started out in 1973 as an independent guide, before becoming a member of the board of directors of the Institution of Iranian Pilgrims’ Guides and then serving as its president for many years.

“I became the head of the coordinating body of the institutions of the sects’ leaders, during which I was able to complete my studies in medicine and obtain my Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree in Pakistan without interruption to the service of pilgrims,” he said. “Then I joined Saudi Airlines as a doctor in medical services and became general manager of the medical services.

“I was practicing my profession as a doctor and obtained a doctorate in the field of the digestive system and liver while studying Austria, but continued serving pilgrims during my studies there by coming to the Kingdom during the pilgrimage season.”

He said that serving pilgrims is an important part of his life and he could not give it up. It is also a calling that he has passed on to the next generation.

“My son, Dr. Hadi, has inherited the profession from me,” he said. “He is a digestive and liver disease consultant, and a member of the board of directors of the Institution of the Iranian Pilgrims’ Guides.”

Guide Ahmed Halabi, a journalist who specializes in pilgrimage services, said: “Pilgrimage guidance has been linked since its inception in 683 AH/1284 AD to providing special services to the pilgrims of the sacred house of God, including reception, circumambulation and supplications.

“This is what Al-Qasim Bin Youssef Al-Sabti refers to in his book ‘The Beneficiary of Expedition and Expatriation.’ He quotes the traveler Ibn Rashid, who performed pilgrimage in 683 AH/1284 AD: ‘The people of Makkah and their children receive pilgrims and teach them rituals. They train their boys on that, so they teach pilgrims prayers and supplications.’”

Halabi added: “We find many guides who have inherited the profession from their fathers and grandfathers, and are proud of it because it was limited to the judges and scholars in the beginning.”

He said that beautiful words of praise and gratitude increase the sense of pride that guides take in their work. Swiss traveler and historian Jean Louis Burckhardt, for example, said: “The guides are the leaders of the pilgrims during the rituals of pilgrimage and while visiting the holy places in the Prophet’s city.”

In his book ‘The Gentle Pleasures in the Mind of the Pilgrim to the Holiest Place,’ Shakib Arslan wrote: “There are two groups in the honorable Hejaz that visitors of Hijaz need and must have a relationship with: Guides in Makkah and Madinah.”

Lady Evelyn Cobbold, a convert to Islam who in 1933 became the first British Muslim woman to perform Hajj, describes in her book “Pilgrimage to Mecca” the details of her visit.

“Time will not erase from my mind and my memory the scenes that I saw in Mecca and Medina, and the strength of faith, beauty of loyalty, and love of good, for both people and enemies alike, which I felt in the Holy Land,” she wrote.

A number of prominent people have served as guides through the years.

“There are many personalities,” said Halabi. “Perhaps the most prominent of them is Dr. Hamid Al-Harsani, who held the position of Minister of Health during the period from (1961 to 1962). He was not only a guide but a leader of guides.

“There was also the late Sheikh Saleh Kamel. His family worked in guidance and his father worked in the Cabinet Office, but he was keen to attend the pilgrimage season to serve the pilgrims coming from Africa. Their office was located in Al-Shabika.”

Faten Hussein, a reporter and specialist in pilgrimage guidance, said the job of guide is inherited by many Makkans by virtue of their proximity to the Holy Sites, their close relationship with the pilgrims, and knowledge of their languages and culture.

She that many begin their work as guides at a very young age, and that the most important thing that distinguishes them is their moral values. A spirit of sacrifice and unlimited benevolence in serving the needs of pilgrims have instilled in them a unique religious identity built on strong belief. They are religious role models for pilgrims, she added.

However, as times have changed, and the number of pilgrims has increased dramatically, so too has the nature of the relationship between guide and pilgrim. What was once a close, almost familial relationship, is now, by necessity, more businesslike.

“Pilgrimage guidance was initially an individual profession, in the sense that the individual and his family carried the burdens and responsibilities of guidance, from the pilgrims’ arrival in Makkah until they departed,” said Hussein.

“But the increase in the number of pilgrims (created a lot of challenges) in performing the profession as it was based on randomness and personal diligence and the individual’s ability to perform all tasks with the required accuracy. This situation led to the emergence of the guidance institutions in (1982), which are based on organized, collective work to intensify efforts and unify procedures to upgrade the services provided to the pilgrims.

“But this in turn led to a cooling in the relationship between pilgrims and guides because pilgrims were placed in distant residences completely separate from the residences of guides and their families, which formed barriers in communication and human relations and led to the shrinking or fading of the close relationship that used to exist between them in the past.”

In the old days, Hussein said, pilgrims and their families used to spend six months or more in Makkah. Female guides worked in roles such as reception and hospitality, preparing locations, accompanying female pilgrims to the holy places, looking after their valuables, providing health care or religious awareness, and even caring for their children.

“In recent years, female guides have worked in a more advanced way and performed high-quality services for female pilgrims,” she said. “Cultural- and religious-awareness meetings are provided for female pilgrims, the content of which is determined according to the needs of the targeted groups. Female guides are also trained in the art of dealing with female pilgrims, the art of speech, and in first aid and other courses.”

Sami Al-Muabber, the chief of Russeifa neighborhood in Makkah, recalled the relationship that developed between guides and pilgrims in years gone by, from their arrival on ships until their departure after spending six or seven months among Makkans. He compared the moment of parting with saying farewell to close family members.

He also highlighted the important role played by the women of Makkah, even many years ago, who went to extraordinary lengths to provide first-class hospitality, from preparing delicious meals to sewing clothes.

Al-Muabber said that pilgrims in the past would spend more time in Makkah and Madinah than in their home countries. As a result, they learned Arabic and taught others their mother tongues. This had a social impact on the way of life of Makkans, who treated the pilgrims as part of their families and essential partners in the social life of the city.

Pilgrims used to arrive at the beginning of the month of Rajab by “Babur” (ship), he added, and stay until Safar, seven months later, which gave plenty of time for them to integrate with Makkans. Pilgrims lived in the homes of their guides. The owner would vacate most of the house, keeping only a room on the roof for himself and his family, with a space in front of it.

The joy of the pilgrims’ arrival was similar to the arrival of Eid, said Al-Muabber. A great feast, called hospitality, was laid on for them, to which all the people of the neighborhood were invited. He added that Makkans would compete with each other to offer hospitality to pilgrims, who would stay, eat and drink as guests of God.

Makkan women shared the same divine rewards as male guides, he said, because they took care of their visitors, accompanied female pilgrims to textile stores and bought them what they needed, and sewed their clothes. Female pilgrims would also buy eyeliners, incense and framed pictures of Makkah and Madinah. Makkan women used to help female pilgrims choose their clothes and prayer mat. Such was the closeness of the relationship that developed over many months between pilgrim and guide, saying goodbye was painful.

“It was like saying goodbye to a family member,” said Al-Muabber. The visitors, he added, became part of the family, sharing moments of happiness and sadness.

Nowadays, the high number of pilgrims and the ways in which the wider world has changed mean that they do not get to know the Makkans in such a deep and meaningful way. Some pilgrims now arrive on the Day of Arafah and leave soon after. They no longer have the opportunity to share with the people of Makkah the beauty of meeting and getting to know each other, or create memories together that will last a lifetime.

Al-Muabber pointed out that at the beginning of the reign of King Saud the number of pilgrims was about 200,000; now there more than two million each year, and they spend much less time in Saudi Arabia. With such sweeping changes, the days when pilgrims and locals could meet, spend time together and form deep bonds that lasted a lifetime are long gone.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Why the road to Makkah is an investment highway

Time: August 17, 2019  

Performing Hajj with my family, I realized what a spiritual and cleansing experience it was to be among more than 2.5 million pilgrims wearing simple clothing, saying similar dua’a and performing identical rituals. Since we have already reached this figure during 2019, I expect we may reach the targeted 6 million pilgrims before 2030.
This important pillar is a sector where investment opportunities are limitless.
From transportation to accommodation, there are major investment opportunities to complete the value chain to the billion-plus Muslims around the globe.
This time, I saw and experienced the Kingdom’s major expansion and enhancement to the Grand Mosque and the holy sites.
The train system has been reinforced to improve access, and help pilgrims perform their visits with greater ease and convenience.
This is one of the promising areas for investment for international companies.
I am sure further enhancement and improvements will be needed as the number of pilgrims grows.
The hospitality sector is another sector for investment, especially for the local private sector. Although my own experience was satisfactory, a lot of improvements are required to enhance the accommodation facilities in the holy sites, and the private sector can be part of this.
It is clear that continual development of the Hajj and Umrah organizations and services in the Kingdom is among the top priorities of the Saudi government.
The Kingdom’s economic blueprint for 2030 includes plans to further improve the quality of services offered to visitors embarking on Hajj and Umrah.
This challenging target will require the public and private sectors to facilitate and implement investments in sectors including construction, transportation, information technology, accommodation and catering worth more than $50 billion.
Finally, there is a great opportunity for local and international investors seeking to be involved in the government’s plans to turn Makkah into a smart city. This will require major investments by IT companies.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Saudi leadership’s management of the Hajj season.
To mobilize such a large number of people who speak different languages requires a high degree of coordination and supervision around the clock, not to mention billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure. And to manage the targeted 6 million pilgrims in 10 years, or even less, local and international companies will find limitless investment opportunities in order to maintain this legacy of smooth management of the Hajj season, ensuring the safety, comfort and happiness of pilgrims.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

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Indonesia hopes for more airport Hajj clearance next year

25/07/19

Indonesian pilgrims arrive at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. (File/SPA)
  • ndonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province
  • About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period

JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes fast tracking for its Hajj pilgrims, known as the “Makkah Road” initiative, will be expanded to at least two more airports in Java next year, which serve as embarkation points from the country’s most populated island and its neighbors, a government official said Thursday.
Indonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province, which serves pilgrims from Lampung, West Java and Banten provinces as well as Jakarta.
About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period.
Last year, fast tracking processed 30 percent of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
“Even though it was introduced last year, the service is still only available in Soekarno Hatta Airport. To be able to provide it in other airports would depend on the availability of Saudi immigration officials and whether the other airports have the infrastructure to support it,” Ramadhan Harisman, the secretary of religious affair’s directorate general for Hajj and Umrah services, told Arab News.
He said Indonesia hoped to eventually fast-track Hajj immigration clearance services at all 13 airports that ran routes to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
“Next year we hope to be able to have the fast-track clearance in Surabaya and Solo. The two airports there are also among the busiest, serving a huge number of pilgrims” Harisman said.
“The two airports are ready, we just need to finalize it with Saudi officials,” he added.
The Surabaya Airport will this year serve 38,150 pilgrims from East Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, while Solo airport will serve 34,171 pilgrims from Central Java and Yogyakarta.
If the fast-track clearance is provided in the two airports in addition to Jakarta, the service would be able to process up to 140,000 pilgrims or more than 60 percent out of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
Indonesia is sending the largest number of Hajj pilgrims this year after it received an increase in its Hajj quota to 231,000 pilgrims.
Harisman said the number of pilgrims that have departed as per 25 July is 134,648 and the last departure is scheduled to take place on August 5. At least 17 have died during the pilgrimage, including a man from from Indramayu, West Java, who died on the plane just two hours before it arrived in King Abdul Aziz airport earlier this week.

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First group of Tunisian pilgrims arrive via Makkah Route initiative

25/07/19

The first Makkah Route initiative’s Hajj flight from Tunisia arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort.
(Photo courtesy: SPA)

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First group of Tunisian pilgrims arrive via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 25, 2019  

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The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort. (SPA)
  • The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims

MADINAH: The first Makkah Route initiative’s Hajj flight from Tunisia arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort.

Sami Al-Saidi, Tunisia’s consul general to Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom presents a new service every year to facilitate the journey of pilgrims coming from all over the world.

He thanked the Saudi government for all the services and facilities being provided for pilgrims.

The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims passing through airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia.

The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in pilgrims’ own countries.

This enables them to bypass procedures on arrival in the Kingdom, and to head directly to buses waiting to transport them to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.

Service authorities deliver pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation in the holy cities.

So far, 479,917 pilgrims have arrived in Madinah since the start of the current Hajj season, according to statistics issued by the National Guides Foundation. The data showed that 279,700 pilgrims left Madinah for Makkah, while 200,192 remained in Madinah.

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Indonesian Hajj pilgrims arrive in Jeddah

Time: July 22, 2019  

1 / 2
Indonesian Hajj pilgrims arriving in Jeddah. (SPA)

 

JEDDAH: The second phase of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims started landing in Jeddah with the arrival of a 455-strong contingent from Makasar’s Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in South Sulawesi.
The pilgrims were received by Indonesian Deputy Chief of Mission to Saudi Arabia Dicky Yunus and Indonesian Consul General Mohamad Hery Saripudin at King Abdul Aziz International Airport on Saturday.
A ceremony was organized to welcome the pilgrims landing in Jeddah, where they were served an Indonesian breakfast.
As many as 529 Garuda Indonesia and Saudia flights are transporting the pilgrims, 296 of which are carrying a total of 120,500 passengers to Jeddah during the period July 20 to Aug. 6.
More than 800 Hajj personnel and officers from Indonesia Religious Affairs Ministry and 308 health-care professionals from Health Ministry have been deployed to assist the pilgrims.
About 231,000 Indonesian pilgrims are expected to perform Hajj this year, including the additional quota 10,000 granted by King Salman.
The increasing quota of the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims will hopefully cut the waiting list, which is currently 40 years long.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Minister of Transport Budi Karya Sumadi visited the special lounge of Makkah Route initiative for Indonesian pilgrims at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.
The minister was briefed on the process and procedures of Makkah Route initiative. He expressed his admiration for the initiative and extended thanks and gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its efforts to serve Islam, Muslims, and pilgrims.

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Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

Time: July 21, 2019  

1 / 2
The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, focusing on the overall health status of each visitor. (SPA)
  • 257,981 pilgrims benefited from the “preventive services” since the new initiative’s launch

RIYADH: One of the services provided by the Makkah Route initiative, which aims to smooth the Hajj journey of pilgrims and provide top-quality service, is to ensure that all health requirements are met.

The Communication, Relations and Health Awareness General Department of the Ministry of Health is implementing the initiative in two ways.

The first is to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa (Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Tunisia).

The second is to check that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

“Preventive measures” mean, for example, providing polio vaccines for pilgrims. The vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is provided through the Pakistani health authorities at the departure area of the airport.

“The ministry is also deploying a team of five people qualified to supervise the application of health requirements and assess the vaccination procedure and the application of preventive measures,” the department added.


HIGHLIGHTS

The Makkah Route initiative aims to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa.

The initiative also ensures that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals.

The teams include 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.


The ministry’s procedures in the departure hall include prepping emergency clinics at the points where Makkah Route pilgrims are received.

These clinics deal with urgent cases, prepare awareness information for pilgrims and coordinate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation regarding their distribution on the targeted airlines.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals, including 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of health practitioners assigned to the service of pilgrims during Hajj “is more than 30,000.”

The ministry encourages volunteering during the Hajj season; it believes that it is a very important and noble service toward fellow citizens, nations and the religion, where Islam highly encourages volunteering and serving others.

The ministry is coordinating the major institutions and commissions via its Hajj volunteering link to register volunteers so that they can participate through the societal partnership program.

The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, keeping an eye on the overall health situation and reporting any suspicious infectious diseases.

The ministry monitors all the health institutions and medical missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices to make sure the health requirements are being properly applied, to ensure pilgrims’ safety and guarantee an environment free of infectious diseases.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that so far that there has been no incidence of any epidemic diseases or quarantine cases recorded among pilgrims, who arrived and the health situation is reassuring.

Since the first of Dul Qaada, the ministry has provided preventive services, via access points, to 257,981 pilgrims, with a total rate of commitment to vaccination reached  87.4 percent for meningitis, 67.3 percent for yellow fever and 95.3 percent for polio.

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Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 15, 2019  

Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Saudi Arabia aboard 90 flights between July 4 and July 11 as part of the Makkah Route initiative, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports announced this week.
“33 flights carrying 13,317 pilgrims arrived through Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport, while 57 flights carrying 23,427 pilgrims arrived through Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport,” the directorate said, as 36,744 Hajj pilgrims were recorded arriving in the Kingdom during the period.

(Photo courtesy: SPA)

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Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 14, 2019  

1 / 3
Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Saudi Arabia aboard 90 flights between July 4 and July 11 as part of the Makkah Route initiative. (SPA)
  • The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims coming from airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia
  • The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries

RIYADH: Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Saudi Arabia aboard 90 flights between July 4 and July 11 as part of the Makkah Route initiative, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports announced this week.
“33 flights carrying 13,317 pilgrims arrived through Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport, while 57 flights carrying 23,427 pilgrims arrived through Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport,” the directorate said, as 36,744 Hajj pilgrims were recorded arriving in the Kingdom during the period.
Pilgrims received a warm welcome from all bodies taking part in the initiative from the moment they left their countries to the moment they arrived at their residences in either Makkah or Madinah, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims coming from airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia.
The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries.
This enables them to bypass procedures on arrival in the Kingdom and to head directly to buses waiting to transport them to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.
Service authorities deliver pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation in the holy cities.
The initiative aims to provide the best service possible for pilgrims by completing their entry into the Kingdom from airports in their countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs grants beneficiaries of the initiative e-Hajj visas after inserting pilgrims’ data in the electronic tracking of Hajj visas.

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