If you ever go to the airport to see off the Hujjaj, you really get that sense of wanting to go.
May Allah make it easy on all those who have been invited to go this year.
Haj influx begins via land, sea, air routes
Pilgrims have started pouring into Saudi Arabia from all around the world to perform Haj — the fifth pillar of Islam — this year.
They are arriving via 16 land, sea and air inlets, while both the government and private sectors have completed all arrangements to receive and enable them perform their rituals in ease and peace.
So far, at least 62,500 pilgrims have arrived from various Arab and Islamic countries on board 276 flights and immediately proceeded toward Makkah or Madinah.
All organizations providing Haj services are ready now to receive the guests of God. Among them is the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), which started executing its Haj plan at a very early stage.
It started implementing its strategy by operating the Haj terminals where pilgrims will be received before they are transported either to Makkah or Madinah.GACA also coordinates with other government departments to make sure that pilgrims are well received and given a pleasant send-off. The first batch of pilgrims arrived on Oct. 9 and will continue to arrive until Nov. 12. They will start departing from Nov. 18 until Dec. 21.
According to GACA, there are six Haj flights every hour and 144 flights every day. The number of Haj flights peak on the second week of November, reaching 200 flights every day.
The Passports Department has completed all its arrangements to receive the pilgrims at the entry points.
Students from the Passport Institute started their posts at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, Prince Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah and the Jeddah Islamic Seaport (JIS), in addition to other inlets.
They were thoroughly trained to handle all passport work, computers, fingerprinting, identifying forged documents and other security matters.
The United Agents' Office also began its work at all entry points. The office has supplied enough manpower and equipment to process pilgrims heading toward one of the two holy cities.
In Jeddah, director of health affairs Dr. Sami Badawood said a total of 589 staff from the Health Ministry, including doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators, will monitor the health of pilgrims at KAIA, while 140 will be stationed at the JIS.
He said the ministry's personnel would ensure that all the pilgrims have adhered to health regulations and that they are free from any contagious diseases.
Badawood said medical staff would provide immediate health care to pilgrims who need it and will transfer critical cases to hospitals in Jeddah, which have completed all arrangements to receive and treat the guests of God.
The number of pilgrims coming from outside is expected to be higher than the 1.7 million that arrived last year, especially as swine flu fears have dissipated.
Meanwhile, the six Tawafa (service providers) establishments have rented out 95 percent of available accommodation for pilgrims in Makkah alone.
The Haj companies and tourist agencies have also had similar success. They are currently authenticating their accommodation contracts with the Haj Ministry.
In contrast to last year, no Arab or Islamic country has so far announced that it will send no pilgrims this year. Between 340,000 and 350,000 Arab pilgrims are expected to perform Haj this year.
The Haj Ministry has employed more than 1,700 qualified Saudis on a temporary basis to help in seven areas, including the Jamarat bridge, emergencies, counting of pilgrims and other administrative assignments.
Makkah Mayor Osama bin Fadl Al-Bar said 21,650 people have been mobilized to implement the Makkah municipality's Haj plan, including more than 7,000 workers with 670 pieces of equipment to clean the Holy City around-the-clock. He said about 200 rubbish compressors been installed to minimize waste.