The first batch of returning Haj pilgrims landed at airports in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah on Thursday, and most of them have found a new slant in their lives. There were many teary eyes as parents met their children after a while and friends welcomed peers at airports.
Abdul Basit Al Hamadi went on his first pilgrimage with his father Mohamed Al Hamadi and said it was an amazing experience. “I left on August 5. The feeling of being there is something that I can’t describe in words. It felt like we are in a different world,” he said after landing at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Abdul Basit praised the efforts taken by the governments of both the UAE and Saudi Arabia to make the journey comfortable. “Even though there were around three million people, the facilities and services were excellent in Saudi Arabia. Both the countries ensured an experience as comfortable as possible for the pilgrims. There were some difficulties but once you are into that crowd, you forget everything.”
And Abdul Basit has learnt new things with his pilgrimage. “You needn’t be angry at small things. You have to be patient. You need to have self-control. I hope from now, my life will be on the right track. I wish everyone lives this moment in their life.”
Khalfan Obaid Al Suwaidi left with his sister and mother for his first pilgrimage and felt like a new person. “I am a different Khalfan now. The Arafat Day was new for me. There were too many people but with same purpose. It was something special to be amid the crowd.”
Ehab Ahmed Mohammed was back from his maiden pilgrimage and said he is a complete human now.
“It was divine. I am too happy. I have fulfilled an important responsibility. I feel so blessed and wish to go on the next one.”
Once back at Abu Dhabi and Sharjah airports, the pilgrims were greeted with flowers, dates, Arabic coffee and chocolates. There was dedicated airport staff at the arrivals building. They finished the procedures within record time and provided excellent services like dedicated tables for the processing of their passports, as well as waiting areas to provide them with the best facilities.
Ahmed Al Shamsi, acting chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said they were all committed to facilitate smooth and safe return of pilgrims. “Haj is a highly important religious journey for Muslims, and one that can also be physically demanding. We have implemented a series of measures across Abu Dhabi International Airport to ensure the needs of every pilgrim are met, and hopefully minimise the stress of travel for all those returning from Haj. We have also made special arrangements to support additional luggage carts and transportation services for returning pilgrims.” He said that it’s an honour to be able to support those returning from Haj.
“We hope the returning pilgrims will benefit from our world-class services and warm Arabian hospitality. Ensuring the comfort, safety and happiness of every traveller who passes through our airports remains our highest priority, in line with our vision of becoming the world’s leading airports group,” added Al Shamsi.
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