127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims to fly to Saudi for Hajj this year

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Bangladeshi pilgrims from different part of the country have gathered at the Hajj camp in Dhaka, from where they will take flight for Saudi Arabia. (Shehab Sumon)
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Bangladeshi pilgrims from different part of the country have gathered at the Hajj camp in Dhaka, from where they will take flight for Saudi Arabia. (Shehab Sumon)
Updated 03 July 2019
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127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims to fly to Saudi for Hajj this year

  • Can avail pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka airport as part of measures introduced by the Kingdom this year  

A total of 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims are set to fly to Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year, with the first flight scheduled for 7.15am on Thursday. 
Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national carrier of the country and Saudi Airlines will carry all the Bangladeshi pilgrims through regular flights and special hajj flights.  The hajj flights will continue till 5th August.  
"We have completed all necessary arrangements to carry around 63,000 pilgrims with 189 hajj flights through four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Biman will also offer 11 flights to Madina from Dhaka for the first time this year," Tahera Khandoker, General Manager of Biman Bangladesh told Arab News. 
For the convenience of the pilgrims from different part of the country,  Biman will operate 19 hajj flights from Chittagong and three flights from Sylhet, informed Khandoker. Biman will operate 176 post-hajj flights from August 17 to September 15 to return the Bangladeshi pilgrims.  
This year each of the Bangladeshi pilgrims have paid around maximum 5,000 USD to perform the hajj while the government has fixed the minimum cost as 4,100 USD. 
Among 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims,  around 7,000 pilgrims are scheduled to perform hajj through the management of religious affairs ministry and the rest others are managed by the 598 private hajj agencies.  
"We have almost settled all the preparations for sending our pilgrims.  But still there are some problems with the visa printing issue as from this year according to the Saudi government policy we had to apply through e - hajj,"  Shahadat Hossain Taslim, President of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) told Arab News. 
"We are facing this problem with visa in 5 - 10 percent cases. However,  with the support of Saudi embassy in Dhaka we are sorting out this visa issues, " Taslim added. 
Bangladeshi pilgrims will enjoy the pre- immigration process from this year which will ease the immigration hassles of the pilgrims waiting in the long queue at Jeddah airport. Earlier, many of the Bangladeshi pilgrims had to wait for around 4 hours in the aircraft after landing at Jeddah to complete the immigration process.  
In the new system,  now the Bangladeshi pilgrims will complete the immigration formalities at Dhaka airport just before boarding on flights.  Saudi immigration chief General Khaled is scheduled to arrive Dhaka on 5th July to inaugurate this pre immigration program on next Saturday. 


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.