DiplomaticQuarter: UK hosts Ramadan iftar in Makkah and hails Saudi services to British pilgrims

British Consul General Seifeldin Usher meets pilgrims during iftar at the Hilton Makkah and Convention Center. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 May 2019
0

DiplomaticQuarter: UK hosts Ramadan iftar in Makkah and hails Saudi services to British pilgrims

  • British Consulate General placed great value on the existing relations between Makkah and the UK

MAKKAH: Britain has fueled its appetite to strengthen ties with Makkah by hosting a Ramadan iftar in the holy city. The British Consulate General in Jeddah on Tuesday provided fast-breaking meals at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel in Jabal Omar, the first time the country has staged an iftar in Makkah.

The consul general and UK special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Seifeldin Usher, said: “This is an important iftar for us. This is the first time that the British Consulate General in Jeddah has hosted a Ramadan iftar in Makkah itself. Usually, of course, we host regular iftars in Jeddah, but really what we wanted to try and do this year was come to the people of Makkah,” said Usher.

He added that the British Consulate General placed great value on the existing relations between Makkah and the UK. “We’ve always enjoyed very good relationships here in the city, particularly with the Makkah Chamber of Commerce.

“But what we really wanted to do was engage more, be more visible and show how really important relations are between Makkah and the United Kingdom, whether on a commercial level with lots of British companies involved, including in the Jabal Omar development, but also such a huge priority from the terms of the British government is the number of British pilgrims who are coming to the Kingdom and into Makkah every year,” he added.

“The figure that we’ve seen for last year was over 100,000 which makes it the biggest European grouping in terms of the numbers of pilgrims coming.

“When we called on the Ministry of Hajj recently, we heard that already the number of British pilgrims preforming Umrah had reached 95,000, so with a few months yet to go we would expect it to be an increase on the number last year.”

The consul general applauded the Saudi authorities for facilitating the Umrah journey for British pilgrims.

“We have to thank the Saudi authorities for all the ever-improving standard of services and facilities that are provided for British pilgrims,” Usher said.

Usher arrived in the Kingdom in September 2018 and is planning on supervising the journey of Hajj for British pilgrims this year.

“This is my first Ramadan in the Kingdom and Insha’Allah during Hajj, I intend to be on the ground here in Makkah, in Mina and Muzdalifah to have the opportunity to welcome British pilgrims, and as part of our consulate team we’ll have people on the ground engaging and supporting the British pilgrims performing Hajj.”


Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

Updated 17 July 2019
0

Hajj pilgrims praise Saudi support at Dhaka airport

  • Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks
  • At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database

DHAKA: Pre-immigration facilities provided by Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrims in Bangladesh have helped reduce waiting times by several hours after their arrival at airports in the Kingdom, several of them said on Wednesday.
The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s Road to Makkah initiative, whereby pilgrims can complete immigration at airports in their home country instead of doing it on arrival in the Kingdom.
From this year, Bangladeshi pilgrims are enjoying pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka airport.
“Among the 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims, this year 60,500 of them will have the opportunity to complete the immigration formalities at Dhaka airport,” Bangladeshi Religious Affairs Secretary Anisur Rahman told Arab News.
“From next year, all Bangladeshi pilgrims will enjoy this pre-immigration system at Dhaka airport.”
Seventy immigration officials from Saudi Arabia are currently in Dhaka to accomplish pilgrims’ immigration tasks. Three Saudi organizations are working at Dhaka airport to accomplish these tasks.
At the airport, Saudi authorities have established 15 booths to serve pilgrims, who have to record 10-finger impressions in the Kingdom’s immigration database.
In addition, at the immigration counter officials take photographs of the pilgrims, Rahman said.
“The pre-immigration system was supposed to be launched from the first Hajj flight on July 4, but due to technical issues we couldn’t do that on the first day. However, things are now running very smoothly,” he added.
Abdul Kayum Bepari, a Bangladeshi pilgrim who completed his Saudi immigration formalities at Dhaka airport, told Arab News: “It’s an amazing experience. All immigration formalities were completed within a minute. When I performed Hajj in 2011, it took more than four hours for me to complete the immigration formalities at the Saudi airport.”
Bangladeshi pilgrim Sadek Ali told Arab News: “Everything is very disciplined. This pre-immigration system has truly eased the hassle of thousands of Bangladeshi pilgrims.”
Pilgrim Bulbuli Begum told Arab News: “My Saudi immigration formalities took only a few seconds to be completed.”
Pre-immigration support for Bangladeshi pilgrims will continue until the last Hajj flight, which is scheduled on Aug. 5.
“We’re trying to ensure maximum support and comfort to the pilgrims,” said a Saudi immigration official at Dhaka airport.
“They don’t even need to worry about luggage. Once the pilgrims land at a Saudi airport, they’ll immediately board hotel-bound buses and will receive their luggage at the hotel.”