Over the past few weeks the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has welcomed an estimated 26,000 British pilgrims who have come to Saudi Arabia in order to perform Hajj many of them first timers. This is in addition to the more than 100,000 pilgrims visiting from the UK to perform Umrah.
Yasmin Qureshi MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah said: “I would like to thank the Saudi Government for their logistics and preparations for Hajj which has allowed British pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage with significant ease.
At the Hajj Symposium held at the Hilton Convention Makkah, I had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Minister for Hajj & Umrah Dr Abdul Fattah Mashat and Dr Abdul Aziz Wazzan (undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah for Umrah Affairs who shared with us the Kingdoms Vision 2030 plans which aims to increase pilgrim numbers and enhance the Hajj & Umrah experience. The UK pilgrims figures are promising and align towards this.
We look forward to developing close cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom”.
UK tour operators and pilgrims alike cited great improvements at this years hajj from the point of arrival at immigration taking less than 5 minutes to process pilgrims to arriving in Makkah in just a few hours. The new Highspeed Haramain Rail service has been greatly received and some UK groups are the first to take advantage of this services for the first time during Hajj which will help reduce travel time between Makkah and Madinah to just 3 hours in a more comfortable and relaxing ride compared to around 6 hours and if travelling by coach.
British Consul-General Seif Usher said: “I was proud to receive the first group of Hajj pilgrims on arrival at Jeddah airport last month, direct from Manchester. And during the course of Hajj itself I have had the privilege of meeting with my Consular team, pilgrims from across the United Kingdom. Their commitment to fulfilling this most important of religious undertakings in Islam, and especially during the high temperatures of August, has been an inspiration.
We also continue to see the huge investment in infrastructure and services by the Saudi authorities to ease the journey for pilgrims. This is very much appreciated by all.”
Rashid Mogradia CEO of the Council of British Hajjis and Secretariat to the cross-party Hajj & Umrah group commended the efforts by the Custodian of the two holy mosques and the Saudi government in delivering services for pilgrims to ease their Hajj experience. “We are witnessing a transformation in the delivery of services for Hajj and we are adapting by working with Licensed Hajj Organisers and local Saudi agencies to deliver support for British pilgrims.
Our dedicated Hajj Team have been moving with the tour groups and pilgrims throughout Hajj and supporting them as required giving them the reassurance during this enduring journey of faith.
Hajj is a manifestation of the ability to unite people from all over the world regardless of their background, culture or social standing. It delivers a message of coexistence, peace and tolerance something every pilgrim can take back to his/her country and community”.