October 14, 2010
British Muslims due to participate in the Hajj are being advised to take heed of up-to-date travel advice before embarking on their trip.
A Meningococcal Meningitis vaccination certificate is a compulsory visa requirement for the estimated 25,000 British Muslims expected to travel to the Hajj this year.
Pilgrims are also being strongly advised to ensure they are vaccinated against Seasonal Influenza before they set off on their travels.
Taking out fully comprehensive travel insurance is also strongly advised.
Cabinet Minister, Baroness Warsi, said: “It is important that British Muslims going on the Hajj this year check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice and the requirements set out by the Saudi government.
“Most Pilgrims will have a trouble free trip but, given the sheer numbers of people due to be present, people should take sensible precautions and plan carefully before they travel.”
Consular Minister, Jeremy Browne, said “We are providing a Consular team on the ground in Saudi Arabia to offer assistance, but British Pilgrims going on the Hajj need to take responsibility for their own pre-travel preparations and ensure they have a valid vaccination certificate for Meningococcal Meningitis and also consider having a flu vaccination.
“We will be updating our Travel Advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website on an ongoing basis and all travellers should ensure they check it regularly.“ The Saudi Government has advised that they have ample capability and resources to provide full medical facilities this year which British Hajjis will be able to use.
A spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in the UK, said: “The Embassy of Saudi Arabia appreciates the support provided to British pilgrims by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office through the Hajj delegation and hopes that all British pilgrims will observe the travel advice published by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.”
The FCO will provide the full range of consular services and will be sending the British Hajj Delegation – a team of FCO volunteers from the British Muslim community, including consular staff – to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj. In addition to the requirements from the Saudi government, the FCO recommends that all pilgrims use the following travellers’ checklist: • Check the FCO travel advice to make sure that you are up-to-date with the situation in Saudi Arabia at www.fco.gov/travel or call 0845 850 2829.
Check that you have the correct tickets and ticket details.
• Make sure that you book your tickets through an ATOL registered tour operator to avoid unnecessary difficulties. For more information please visit www.atol.org.uk.
Have contact details for your tour operator in the UK and their representatives in Makkah.
• Get travel insurance for all aspects of your journey. Check that you have had the required vaccinations for your pilgrimage and that you have vaccination cards with you.
• Ensure that your passport is in good condition and the necessary visas are in place.
• Make copies of your passport, insurance policy plus emergency numbers and ticket details. Leave these copies, your itinerary and correct contact details with family and friends.
• Individuals on medication should make sure that they have adequate quantities to get them through the Hajj period. Existing medication should be clearly labelled for each individual.
• Ensure you have good quality footwear as you may have to walk long distances.
• Ensure all your luggage is clearly labelled by placing stickers both on the outside and inside of your luggage showing your name, nationality, passport number, air carrier, flight number, hotel name and a contact telephone number.
• Make sure you have the contact details of the Hajj Delegation and local consulate.
• Please note any kind of photography (still or video) is strictly prohibited inside and around the two Holy Mosques. Anybody violating this will have their equipment and material confiscated.
Source: Asian Image