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Nigerians begin journey to Holy Land tomorrow

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Hajj

Nigerian inaugural flight for 2018 Hajj exercise in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday 21 July) with pilgrims from Kogi State.

This is coming as the Saudi Arabia received first flights from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Malaysia last Saturday, with more expected till August 15.

Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed who confirmed the Nigeria’s inaugural flight at a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja, enjoined state representatives to sensitize their pilgrims on the need to remain in their homes until their flights are called instead of putting themselves under pressure waiting at the Hajj camps.

He stated that vaccines for the necessary inoculation of pilgrims are already made available for takeoff of the immunization activity, and warned state officials from running clinics in their pilgrim’s accommodation facilities while in the holy land, as this is against Saudi Arabian regulations.

Muhammed emphasized that the national medical team, comprising 60 per cent of state nominated medical staff and NAHCON’s 40 per cent, remains solely responsible for establishing medical centers in Saudi. Therefore, these national clinics remain the only recognized medical facilities apart from the Saudi based ones.

He commended accommodation negotiation committee for their efforts in bringing down Hajj fares against all odds.

The NAHCON BOSS charged the operators to remain focused on the Hajj template and not to compromise standards or shortchange pilgrims of the services they have paid for.

Meanwhile, the Hajj 2018 season has begunin Saudi Arabia, as the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, Madinah, are witnessing the start of pilgrimage flights, in which all public and private sectors operating in the airport finished preparations for serving pilgrims from all over the world.

Pakistan has started operating Hajj flights and the first Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-7001, carrying 171 pilgrims from Karachi, landed in Madinah last Saturday.

On the second flight, 186 Pakistani pilgrims reached the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah from Islamabad through PK- 741 and were welcomed by Pakistani consulate officers. Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj Abdullah Al-Fataah and other Saudi officials were also present.

According to Hajj policy 2018, a total of 107,000 Pakistanis will perform Hajj under the government Hajj scheme and 77,210 pilgrims will do so through private Hajj schemes. Hajj flights are also scheduled from other major cities of the country including Peshawar, Multan, Sukkur, Lahore and Faisalabad.

Spokesperson for the Pakistani Ministry of Religious Affairs, Imran Siddiqui, said: “We have made excellent accommodation, food and transportation arrangements for all the pilgrims with the cooperation of the Saudi government,”

He said 184,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj this year, while flight operations will continue from Saturday till August 15.

Siddiqui said the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad remained open, even in weekends, to process visas and other official requirements for people intending to perform their Hajj.

The Jeddah airport also received the first flight carrying pilgrims from Bangladesh, 419 in total.

Pilgrims were offered dates and prayer mats by the Saudi authorities.

The passengers were received by Vice President of the General Authority for Civil Aviation Sulaiman bin Hamad Al-Bassam, Director General of King Abdul Aziz International Airport Essam Fouad, and a number of government and airport officials.

The Madinah airport also received the first flight carrying pilgrims from Malaysia.

The first Hajj flight from Kabul also arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, carrying 345 Afghan pilgrims.

An estimated 30,000 Afghans will perform Hajj this year, out of which the government will sponsor 500 mainly the family members of those who fell victim to the country’s war.

The operational plan for the Hajj season this year included preparations for receiving pilgrims and the training of governmental bodies at the airport for finalizing their processes swiftly.


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