Over 100 pilgrims left from Dubai International Airport on Wednesday to perform Haj.
The pilgrims departed on Emirates flights from Terminal 3, where the airline has added 38 additional flights to Saudi Arabia, officials said. While 29 flights fly to Jeddah, the other nine go to Madinah, besides the five daily flights that head to both cities.
The last flight to Saudi Arabia is scheduled for August 26. The pilgrims who flew on Wednesday are among 6,000 Emiratis embarking on Haj this year, compared to the estimated 5,000 did the Haj trip last year.
The pilgrims are scheduled to return on September 4.
Mohammed Al Dewani, Terminal 1 operations manager, and this year’s Dubai Airports’ Haj committee head said area 6 in Airport Terminals 1 and 3 have been dedicated to check-in areas for pilgrims, to facilitate their boarding procedures as quickly as possible.
Dedicated immigration counters and baggage belts have also been provided to speed up the process, and small electric cars are being used to help transport elderly pilgrims. “We have car parking spots for pilgrims close to the terminals. Emirates and Saudi Arabian Airlines have been given special immigration and passport control counters. Even the security checks will be separate for pilgrims, from the rest of passengers,” said Al Dewani.
Preparations started a month ago through meetings conducted with Dubai Airports’ strategic partners to ensure a smooth Haj season, Al Dewani noted. The Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services and Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHP) have also provided services for pilgrims around the clock.
Similar measures will be provided upon the pilgrims’ return and gifts will be distributed.
Meanwhile, the Pilgrims received first-aid kits, basic health checkups, daily use items, sanitisers, caps, and umbrellas from MoHP at the airport, besides special bags for pilgrims with chronic diseases for safe storage of their medicines.
Badr Ahmed Al Najar, director of auditing and representative of the pilgrim committee at MoHP, said the travellers were also given health and nutritional tips to stay healthy during the pilgrimage. “We prepared booklets to guide them on the locations of the UAE delegation, with contact numbers if they need them. We also ensured they received the right vaccinations before flying out,” said Najar.
The ministry will have stands in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai airports to give out gifts to the 6,000 UAE pilgrims.
Mohammed Ismail from the Dubai Police is flying for Haj for the first time. He said the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments has all the required measures in place, easing the anxiety that comes with travelling, especially on an important journey like Haj. “They just told us to hand over our passports and the rest were taken care of,” said Ismail.
His colleague Fahd Al Janahi said authorities followed up with the pilgrims and answered all questions well before their travel dates. “It’s a great privilege to be going this year, and having the help and guidance from authorities made everything easy,” said Al Janahi.