Bangladeshi pilgrims laud Saudi initiatives on return from Hajj

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A group of Bangladeshi pilgrims are coming out of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at Dhaka as the first Hajj return flight landed on Saturday. (AN photos by Shehab Sumon)
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A group of Bangladeshi pilgrims are coming out of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at Dhaka as the first Hajj return flight landed on Saturday. (AN photos by Shehab Sumon)
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A group of Bangladeshi pilgrims are coming out of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at Dhaka as the first Hajj return flight landed on Saturday. (AN photos by Shehab Sumon)
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A group of Bangladeshi pilgrims are coming out of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at Dhaka as the first Hajj return flight landed on Saturday. (AN photos by Shehab Sumon)
Updated 20 August 2019

Bangladeshi pilgrims laud Saudi initiatives on return from Hajj

  • Almost all Bangladeshi pilgrims have lauded the new Hajj management initiatives introduced by the Saudi authorities

DHAKA: Bangladeshi pilgrims who returned from the Kingdom late on Saturday commended Saudi Arabia for the management and facilities extended during Hajj.
The first group of pilgrims landed at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Saturday with nearly 127,000 Bangladeshis performing Hajj this year.
Half of the pilgrims enjoyed the pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka airport for the first time under the Saudi government’s Makkah Route initiative.
Bangladeshi Hajj officials at Dhaka said that from next year all Bangladeshi pilgrims will enjoy the pre-immigration facilities at Dhaka, which will reduce the waiting time of pilgrims at Saudi airports.  
Almost all Bangladeshi pilgrims have lauded the new Hajj management initiatives introduced by the Saudi authorities.
“After reaching Saudi Arabia, I installed the Smart Hajj app on my smartphone. I found it very useful to identify the exact direction of Qiblah (Kaaba) during my visit to the holy places,” Masuda Begum, a Bangladeshi pilgrim told Arab News.  
“Using the Manasikana app, I located my companions and was reunited with them. The idea of introducing this smart technology during Hajj is really amazing,” she said.
Another Bangladeshi pilgrim, Abul Hashem, suggested that the Smart Hajj app would be more effective if the Saudi management could incorporate the Bangla language.
“Although we understand Hindi and Urdu during conversations, most of us cannot read Hindi and Urdu text. And many of the Bangladeshi pilgrims do not have much knowledge in English, which made us helpless in receiving services from the app,” Hashem said. However, Hashem found the multilingual emergency services very effective.

FASTFACT

• Final batch of 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims to return home by Sept. 15

• Pilgrims from Bangladesh praised the pre-immigration facilities introduced by the Saudi government.

• Smart Hajj app helped visitors in performing rituals easily.

• Pilgrims lauded Kingdom’s multilingual emergency services during Hajj.

“One of our fellows suddenly fainted due to the scorching weather and he was immediately hospitalized with the support of these volunteers,” Hashem told Arab News.  
Bangladeshi pilgrim, Dr. Atisha Rabbi, found the overall Hajj management much better this year.  
“After landing at Saudi Arabia airport, I was at a loss about what do since hundreds of pilgrims from different countries were moving together. At this moment, I approached the multilingual speakers at the Hajj terminal and managed my next directions,” she said.  
However, she suggested developing overall toilet management in Mina-Arafat-Muzdalifah during the Hajj ritual days.
“Sometimes I did not get enough water in the washrooms in all three places. With a little effort from the management it would have been even better,” she said.
She also suggested increasing the number of indicator guidelines with multilingual approaches, including Bangla, at different places of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
According to the Hajj office in Dhaka, 81 Bangladeshi pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season. Last year, the number was about 150.
Bangladesh’s official carrier Biman and Saudi Airlines will operate return Hajj flights until Sept. 15.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”