Jeddah – The first batches of a total of 235,000 pilgrims from India and Bangladesh arrived on Wednesday in the Kingdom for this year’s Hajj. Malaysian pilgrims arrived in Madinah on Wednesday.
An Air India flight carrying 235 pilgrims from Kolkata arrived at Madinah’s Prince Muhammad International Airport at 12.00 p.m. while 419 Bangladesh pilgrims landed at the Hajj terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah. Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao, Consul General B.S. Mubarak, Deputy Consul General and Consul (Hajj) Md Noor Rahman Sheikh and other officials received the pilgrims. Air India flight AI 5001 landed nearly four hours behind schedule. Senior officials from the Ministry of Hajj, the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the Madinah airport were also present to welcome the pilgrims.
The first batch of pilgrims was accommodated at Muktara Al Alami building near Maktab Daruzzaman on Sitteen Street at Markazia (central Haram area). A total of 2,200 pilgrims arrived from India on board nine flights on Wednesday, Consul General Mubarak said. There were two flights each from Kolkata and New Delhi, and one each from Lucknow, Sri Nagar, Mangalore, Guwahati and Gaya. All these pilgrims were accommodated in the Markaziya area. The pilgrims will be served breakfast, lunch and dinner at their lodgings in Madinah for the first time this year. “The pilgrims expressed their happiness over the warm reception and elaborate arrangements made by the Saudi authorities and Indian mission officials. The pilgrims’ immigration clearance and movement to their accommodation have been completed smoothly and comfortably,” he said.
Mubarak also appreciated the service of Indian Hajj Welfare Forum volunteers who distributed water and dates to the pilgrims. Earlier, attending a meeting of the volunteers, Mubarak urged them to download the Indian pilgrims locator application to get exact information about their accommodation and other details. The Indian Hajj Mission is the first foreign mission to introduce a new state-of-the-art Google map navigation system called “Indian Hajj Accommodation Locator” to locate the pilgrims’ accommodation in the holy cities. By simply entering the cover number or passport number of the pilgrim, a user-friendly menu will guide the user to the pilgrims’ accommodation in Makkah, Mina and Madinah.
Saudi Arabian Airlines and Air India will operate a total of 360 flights to transport 100,020 pilgrims who come through India’s Central Hajj Committee from 21 embarkation points. A total of 136,020 Indian pilgrims, including 36,000 who come through private tour operators, have been picked for performing Hajj this year.
A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight from Dhaka landed at Jeddah Hajj terminal at 10.30 a.m. carrying the first batch of Bangladeshi pilgrims. Bangladesh Ambassador Md Shahidul Islam, Consul General A.K.M. Shahidul Karim and Consul (Hajj) Md Asaduzzaman received the pilgrims at the airport. Abdullah Muhammad Marghalani, deputy minister and director general (Hajj) at the Jeddah branch of the Ministry of Hajj; Maj. Gen. Mohammad Abdullah Barawi, chairman of General Car Syndicate; Dr. Rafat Ismail Badar, chairman of South Asian Establishment; and Khaled Mokther, director of Transport at the Hajj terminal, were among those who were present at the airport to greet the pilgrims. Marghalani presented prayer mats and rosaries to the first group of pilgrims as a gesture of goodwill from the Saudi government.
Welcoming the pilgrims, Islam wished their wellbeing and safety and hoped that the pilgrims would be able to perform their Hajj rituals with ease and comfort this year. He said the Bangladesh government and the Hajj mission made all arrangements to enable the pilgrims to perform the Hajj rituals smoothly and comfortably. Consul General Karim said a second flight carrying 378 pilgrims also arrived in Jeddah Wednesday and all these pilgrims are accommodated in Misfalah in the central Haram area of Makkah.
This year 98,814 Bangladeshis will perform Hajj. Of them, 1,557 will travel under the Bangladesh government’s arrangements and the rest through private tour operators. Biman and Saudi Arabian Airlines will transport the pilgrims. The last flight carrying the pilgrims will arrive on Sept. 28, he added. Meanwhile, the first group of pilgrims from Malaysia arrived in Madinah on Wednesday. They were received at the airport by officials from the Ministry of Hajj, Saudi Arabian Airlines, the National Establishment for Guides and deputy head of Malaysian pilgrims' office Noreen Anwar Bin Shamsuddin.
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