MAKKAH: Britain has fueled its appetite to strengthen ties with Makkah by hosting a Ramadan iftar in the holy city. The British Consulate General in Jeddah on Tuesday provided fast-breaking meals at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel in Jabal Omar, the first time the country has staged an iftar in Makkah.
The consul general and UK special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Seifeldin Usher, said: “This is an important iftar for us. This is the first time that the British Consulate General in Jeddah has hosted a Ramadan iftar in Makkah itself. Usually, of course, we host regular iftars in Jeddah, but really what we wanted to try and do this year was come to the people of Makkah,” said Usher.
He added that the British Consulate General placed great value on the existing relations between Makkah and the UK. “We’ve always enjoyed very good relationships here in the city, particularly with the Makkah Chamber of Commerce.
“But what we really wanted to do was engage more, be more visible and show how really important relations are between Makkah and the United Kingdom, whether on a commercial level with lots of British companies involved, including in the Jabal Omar development, but also such a huge priority from the terms of the British government is the number of British pilgrims who are coming to the Kingdom and into Makkah every year,” he added.
“The figure that we’ve seen for last year was over 100,000 which makes it the biggest European grouping in terms of the numbers of pilgrims coming.
“When we called on the Ministry of Hajj recently, we heard that already the number of British pilgrims preforming Umrah had reached 95,000, so with a few months yet to go we would expect it to be an increase on the number last year.”
The consul general applauded the Saudi authorities for facilitating the Umrah journey for British pilgrims.
“We have to thank the Saudi authorities for all the ever-improving standard of services and facilities that are provided for British pilgrims,” Usher said.
Usher arrived in the Kingdom in September 2018 and is planning on supervising the journey of Hajj for British pilgrims this year.
“This is my first Ramadan in the Kingdom and Insha’Allah during Hajj, I intend to be on the ground here in Makkah, in Mina and Muzdalifah to have the opportunity to welcome British pilgrims, and as part of our consulate team we’ll have people on the ground engaging and supporting the British pilgrims performing Hajj.”