Saudi Grand Mufti: Doha blocking pilgrim flights ‘wrong and dangerous’

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh
Updated 22 August 2017
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Saudi Grand Mufti: Doha blocking pilgrim flights ‘wrong and dangerous’

RIYADH: Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh strongly criticized Doha for its handling of air transport for Qatari pilgrims to perform Hajj.
Al-Asheikh described Doha’s prevention of pilgrims from being transported to the Kingdom by air as “wrong and dangerous,” Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.
His comments came after Saudi Arabian Airlines said its could not schedule flights to transport Qatari pilgrims from Doha to Jeddah because Qatari authorities failed to grant the required clearance to land, despite the passage of several days since clearance was requested.
Since the start of the boycott by the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), the national airlines of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have stopped using Qatari airspace.
The ATQ members have also banned Qatar Airways and affiliated companies from using their airspace. But nine emergency corridors have been designated over high seas for Qatari planes to use.
The Kingdom’s willingness to send seven planes to transport Qatari pilgrims from Doha to Jeddah followed talks last week between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani.


Fast track to Hajj on Jakarta’s ‘Makkah Road’

Updated 18 July 2018
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Fast track to Hajj on Jakarta’s ‘Makkah Road’

  • A fast-track clearance for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims has been opened at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport
  • The initiative comes as the first groups of pilgrims left from six Indonesian cities, including the capital

JAKARTA: A fast-track clearance for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims — known as the “Makkah Road” — has been opened at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport.
The initiative comes as the first groups of pilgrims left from six Indonesian cities, including the capital.
Indonesian and Saudi officials, including Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Indonesia, were present at the official launch of the fast-track facility on Tuesday.
Airport operator Angkasa Pura has installed 20 booths to process Hajj pilgrims, with each counter manned by two Saudi immigration officers.
“This is the first time the immigration process has taken place in Jakarta, so they will not have to go through custom clearance on arrival in Saudi Arabia and can go directly to their buses, which will take them to their accommodation, while their luggage will be handled and delivered directly to their respective hotels,” Al-Shuaibi said.
“This is a step to improve our Hajj services. We have introduced it this year at Jakarta, where about 60,000 pilgrims are expected to depart. We will introduce it in four cities next time and eventually we hope to introduce it all Hajj embarkations in Indonesia,” he said.
The envoy said that about 400 pilgrims underwent the fast-track clearance in an hour at the airport on Tuesday.
“We appreciate King Salman’s initiative that makes the pilgrims’ journey much easier. It shows that we have a deep and close relation,” Indonesia’s Minister of Social Affairs, Idrus Marham, said.
Director-General of Hajj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Nizar Ali, said that 4,486 pilgrims had left from Surakarta, Surabaya, Jakarta, Padang, Makassar and Lombok. More than 221,000 pilgrims are expected to leave Indonesia this year, with the last departure on Aug. 14.
Garuda, the Indonesian airline, expects to fly as many as 108,000 pilgrims in 280 groups from around the country.
Among the 393 pilgrims who left Jakarta was 91-year-old Mohammad Hasan Saad, from East Jakarta, the oldest person in the group.
Hanif Fakri, a member of the medical staff assisting the group, said that Saad was making his second pilgrimage after his first Hajj in 2012.
Hanafi bin Dogol, a 50-year-old pilgrim from East Jakarta, told Arab News that he been on a seven-year waiting list waiting for his chance to go on Hajj.
“I have been practicing and learning the rituals. I hope I can accomplish the pilgrimage in the most favorable manner,” he said.