ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry has started conducting training sessions for Hajj assistants to help pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia in the best possible way, a statement from the spokesperson of the ministry said on Saturday.
This year, Saudi Arabia reinstated Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and scrapped the upper age limit of 65 in January. About 80,000 Pakistani pilgrims are expected to perform the pilgrimage under the government scheme this year, and the rest will be facilitated by private tour operators.
The first batch of Pakistani Hajj pilgrims reached the holy city of Madinah on May 22, while the last flight would depart from Pakistan on June 20.
“Moavineen e Hujjaj (Hajj assistants) are engaged in daily training across different phases to enhance their skills in guiding and assisting pilgrims during the five-day Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place from the 8th to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah,” the spokesperson of the religious ministry said in a statement.
“The main aim of this extensive training is to provide [Hajj assistants] with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively lead and assist pilgrims in reaching their assigned camps, and ensuring a seamless experience during their Hajj pilgrimage.”
The ministry said it has deployed 3,000 individuals, including Urdu and Arabic-speaking Hajj assistants and medical personnel, at different locations during the Hajj period.
“To ensure their efficiency, the volunteers are participating in daily group training sessions facilitated by experienced trainers. Each training group consists of approximately 40 to 50 individuals per day,” the report added.
The primary objective of the comprehensive training, the ministry said, was to equip Hajj assistants with the essential expertise and knowledge needed to guide intending pilgrims to their designated camps, thereby enabling them to navigate the Hajj rituals smoothly throughout their Hajj journey.
“The [assistants] received instructions, supported by maps, to ensure that Pakistani pilgrims are properly guided to their designated camps, even in the event of any forgetfulness on the pilgrims’ part,” the report said.
Hajj is an obligatory religious ritual for adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of carrying it out. It involves visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah at least once in a lifetime and takes place during the last month of the lunar Islamic calendar called Dhu Al-Hijjah.