Saudi Arabia has announced permits for 1 million Muslims to perform the journey
Hajj pilgrims check-in at the Dubai International Airport on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Photos by Neeraj Murali
‘Assalamualaikum’, ‘ahlan’, and ‘mabrook’ were greetings used in abundance at gate 5 and 6 of Dubai Airport Terminal 1, as the first batch of Haj pilgrims departed to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam.
Decked in Arab traditional dress and praying beads in hand, the first batch included people from different entities of the Dubai Government. “After a wait of nearly three years, finally I am accepted by the Almighty to perform the holy pilgrimage,” said Bader Abdul Aziz Al Hai, who has been to Umrah earlier, but he performing Haj for the first time.
Bader Abdul Aziz Al Hai
This year Saudi Arabia has announced permits for one million Muslims to perform the annual pilgrimage with the number of permits increased for UAE residents significantly, as compared to the last two years because of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the pandemic struck in 2020, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims to perform the Haj, while last year, they upped the total to 60,000 fully vaccinated people chosen through a lottery.
Al Hai happily said that this trip was the most anticipated in his life. “I am privileged and blessed to take on this pilgrimage. I cannot thank enough to the authorities and people involved in helping me out in my departure for the pilgrimage,” Al Hai added.
Fahad Al Mazrooei
Another pilgrim, Fahad Al Mazrooei, who works in a public department, also feels blessed to take the holy journey. “Alhamdulillah, this is the opportunity for me to implement my learnings since my childhood. We have been taught about Haj and now I want to make the most of this holy expedition.”
Al Mazrooei has been trying to perform Haj for a few years now, but this year, as he said, “Allah accepted (him) for this.”
Counselor Marwan Al Shehhi
Marwan Al Shehhi, Head of the official Haj delegation of Dubai Government, said that the pilgrims have all met the requirements to perform the holy pilgrimage. “The Haj delegation of the Dubai government started during the time of Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum and is totally supported by the government.”
“The Islamic Affairs department is keen to ensure all preparations for Hajj following Islamic guidelines,” added Al Shehi.
The pilgrims will arrive at Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah at 8.00 pm local time and carry on with their journey forward to the holy city of Makkah to perform Umrah, before starting their Haj journey.
Mohammad Al Marzouqi, Head of the Hajj Committee at Dubai Airports said that the Haj Committee swung in action 3 months ago to facilitate ease in every aspect of Haj for departure from Dubai. “We have been meeting all the stakeholders and airlines and discussed the possible scenarios to handle Haj rush with precautionary measures due to Covid-19.”
The Haj pilgrims will have “separate check-in counters, immigration, packing machines, and screening machines all the way to the gate. They also need a Haj permit, a Covid-19 vaccination certificate and should not exceed 65 years of age.”
After performing Haj and Umrah, the delegation is scheduled to return to Dubai on July 13.