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
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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.”


Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

Updated 26 May 2019
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Pilgrims with special needs treated to a memorable Umrah trip under Saudi ministry’s Ramadan initiative

  • Umrah trip held as part of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative 

JEDDAH: Several Muslims with special needs have benefited from a special Umrah pilgrimage organized by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to statement from the ministry, the Umrah trip, was held on the 17th of Ramadan  (May 22) under the “Sadiq Almutamir (Friend of the Pilgrim)” initiative in partnership with Sawt Alasm association in Jeddah.

A busload of 20 people with special needs were accompanied by 12 volunteers of Sadiq Almutamir, including sign language interpreters for the deaf pilgrims. 

The first stop was at Kuday area in Makkah, where pilgrims received the special gifts of Sadiq Almutamir, supported by the Establishment of Motawifs of South East Asian Pilgrims. Next was their arrival at the Grand Mosque, wherein the pilgrims performed Umrah, enjoyed Iftar meals, and received souvenirs from Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association. 

Volunteers assisted the pilgrims by communicating with them, providing instructions and directions in addition to sharing their feelings with the support of the sign language interpreters. 

Sadiq Almutamir also accompanied pilgrims during the performance of Umrah, providing wheelchairs for the elderly, sharing breakfast, and learning about their impressions of performing Umrah for their first time. 

Sadiq Almutamir is one of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s initiatives in Makkah’s Cultural Forum. It focuses on promoting the culture of giving and cooperation between the Saudi youth as well as elevating the volunteering services provided to Umrah pilgrims in order to enrich their experiences. It also provides optional tours to visit attractions, monuments, and places contribute to enriching experiences of Mutamirs and immortalizing beautiful memories in the Kingdom.

Launched late last year, the initiative aims to develop the spirit of volunteerism among Muslims and to invest in the youth by engaging young men and women in service and social responsibility.

“It focuses as well on improving the efficiency level of services provided to pilgrims, promoting the culture of volunteering, helping elderly and special needs’ people to perform Umrah rituals, and finally contributing to the realization of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 of reaching 1 million volunteers annually,” ministry statement said.

The trip was held in cooperation with the Western Fleet Transport, in coordination with the undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for pilgrims’ transportation affairs and Haji & Mu'tamer's Gift Association.