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Walk this way, pilgrims

Walk this way, pilgrims

Saudi Arabian officials announced the procedures Haj pilgrims need to follow upon arriving in the Kingdom. Prepare yourself, it’s complicated.

November 5, 2009 2:26 by

7. The pilgrims collect bus tickets from the Maktab al-Wukala counter for their onward journey to Makkah and/or Madinah.

8. Now just two steps away from leaving the airport, the pilgrim waits for the Transport Syndicate to announce the buses’ departure to Makkah. The transport of pilgrims to Makkah and Madinah is provided by two main bodies: the General Car Syndicate and the Office of Guides. Representatives from the United Agents’ Office will guide the pilgrims to their buses, which take them to the Pilgrims’ Grouping Center near Makkah.

According to a decision by the Council of Ministers in 2001, an office to provide guidance for the pilgrims’ buses was established. The decision made it obligatory for the office to provide guides in each bus until it reaches the specified Tawafa establishment which is providing services to pilgrims. The Office of Guides is staffed by 516 individuals. The General Car Syndicate has 19,500 buses this year to provide transport for pilgrims between Jeddah, Makkah, the Holy Sites and Madinah. Of these, 340 new buses costing SR136 million ($36.3 million) are in service for the first time. The vehicles transporting pilgrims are monitored electronically through GPS so that their exact locations are known in order to provide help if required.

9. The pilgrim boards one of the buses assisted by his country’s Haj mission staff. They ensure pilgrims belonging to one particular Haj organizer are grouped together.

10. Once on the bus, the pilgrims hand over their passports to their guide, who leaves them with the Tawafa Establishment or muallim once he arrives at Makkah or Madinah. The passport stays with the muallim during the rest of the pilgrim’s stay in Saudi Arabia.

Arab News

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