Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Nightmare in Tourism Logistics

A Nightmare in Logistics, the Hajj pilgrimage which involves almost 3 million human beings congregating at Makkah, then moving on to Minah, Arafat, Muzdalifah and back to Mina, over a short 6 day period, is effectively managed by the Saudi Arabian Government and its designated administrative authorities, each year.

The logistics, administration and management of the annual pilgrimage of Hajj by the Saudi Arabian authorities and related public and private sector organizations is truly a nightmare beyond the wildest imagination of any operational exercise in the world. With the volume of pilgrims participating in the Hajj increasing by leaps and bounds each year the authorities have had to spruce up their act, re-define procedures, and come up with better control mechanisms and facilities to provide a smooth and successful process to enable a successful execution of the pilgrimage.
In 2008 Saudi missions abroad issued almost 2 million visas for pilgrims seeking to perform the pilgrimage from overseas. In addition the number of local pilgrims who travel to Makkah from all parts of the Kingdom usually amounts to another million, at least.

The majority of foreign pilgrims in 2008 — 1,645,135 — came by air, 216,532 by land and 30,550 by sea, according to Maj. Gen. Salim Al-Belaihed, Director General of the Passport Department.

About 1,000 foreign dignitaries including 720 from Europe, 200 from Asia and Australia and 61 from Arab countries also performed the Haj in 2008 and the numbers are expected to be similar this year too. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz also invited almost 12,000 prominent Muslim personalities from around the world to perform Haj as his guests over the past several years.

Read the full article here by Fazil Sameer from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

About the Hajj festivities

The main reason Muslims go to Makkah is to pray in the Holy Mosque. Often, they perform the Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, while visiting the Holy Mosque. Once a year, the Hajj, the greater pilgrimmage, takes place in Makkah and nearby sites. During the Hajj, three million people worship in unison.

If a person performs the Umrah or the Hajj correctly, all his/her sins are forgiven.

Every adult, healthy, sane Muslim who has enough money to travel to Makkah and can make arrangements for the care of his/her dependents during the trip, must perform the Hajj once in a lifetime.

In 2009, the Hajj will begin today Wednesday, November 25.

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