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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

428 Pilgrims Leave For Saudi Arabia

Pilgrims boarding the aircraft

 

The first batch of four hundred and twenty eight (428) pilgrims were airlifted from the Tamale International Airport en route to Madina, Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrims are expected to be airlifted by Flynas Airbus A330-900 in four flights beginning from yesterday and ending on May 31, 2024.

Addressing journalists at the Tamale International Airport, the Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Board, Alhaji Ben Abdallah Banda, indicated that pilgrims will be provided with accommodation and two square meals a day during their 30-day stay in Saudi Arabia.

He urged pilgrims to be wary of gate crashers who by the nature of their visas were not allowed to perform the Hajj but who would want to sneak in to partake in the facilities meant for persons who paid through the Ghana Hajj Board.

“They went on their own, they took different visas and will come to us to plead that you should give them accommodation to enable them perform the Hajj. Don’t allow them because what they have done is against Saudi laws,” he pointed out.

Alhaji Banda assured the pilgrims that the Ghana Hajj Board will be available to assist them should they need any assistance while in Saudi Arabia.

The Executive Secretary, Alhaji Farouk Hamza, counselled the departing pilgrims to take very good care of their identification cards because this year’s pilgrimage unlike the previous ones is going to be characterised by security checks to be undertaken by the Saudi authorities.

Pilgrims who lose these cards should report same to the Ghana Hajj Board for the necessary action to be taken, he advised them.

The Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, appealed to pilgrims to be of good behaviour in Saudi Arabia and ensure that they are good ambassadors of the nation.

The flight lifted off at about 3.50pm as excited family members heaved sighs of relief that at last their fathers, mothers and other relatives were en route to the Holy Land.

For the Ghana Hajj Board members, they could only pat each other on the back for a job well done.

The Ghana Hajj Board has already sent ingredients for the preparation of local dishes for the pilgrims during their stay in Saudi Arabia.

The security checks about which the Executive Secretary spoke about has been necessitated by the attempts by some non-Hajj visa holders to perform the Hajj in violation of Saudi laws.

It is thought that over two thousand Ghanaian Muslims will attempt using non-Hajj visas to perform the pilgrimage, something the Saudi authorities have indicated from multitude of releases in the past several weeks they would not countenance.

Messages received from some of such persons suggest that they have began seeing the challenges they would encounter in their efforts to breach laws.

BY Eric Kombat, Tamale

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