Pilgrim’s progress: Moroccan completes 4-year cycle epic for Hajj

Ghulam Yassin started his journey in January 2017. (Photo/Social media)
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Updated 30 July 2020

Pilgrim’s progress: Moroccan completes 4-year cycle epic for Hajj

JEDDAH: A young Moroccan has finally arrived in time for Hajj in the Kingdom after a 4-year journey across 28 countries by foot and bicycle.
In a video shared widely on social media, Ghulam Yassin said he arrived in Saudi Arabia about seven months ago after years spent walking and cycling. He started his journey in January 2017.
“I spent four years traveling on foot just to reach Makkah so that I can perform Hajj,” said Yassin.
Saudi media personality Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi traveled to Abha, where the Moroccan traveler is staying, to welcome him and share his story.
“We came all the way from Qassim to meet you. You are our guest and the guest of every home in the Kingdom. We are so happy to have you,” said Al-Mutairi.
He was moved by Yassin’s goal and wanted to ease his travels. He placed his 26 kg backpack and bicycle in the back of a car and drove to see where Yassin sleeps.
Yassin sleeps in a portable tent filled with his personal belongings and cooking utensils.
He was planning to perform Hajj this year but had to postpone his goal because of the pandemic. He decided to stay in Abha because of its cool climate and natural beauty.
“The Kingdom limited the number of pilgrims this year to protect our health,” Yassin said. “So I decided to come to the south and enjoy my time because the weather is beautiful. I wasn’t expecting the area to be this beautiful,” he added.
“I walked from Makkah to Madinah on foot, following the journey of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The pandemic reached the Kingdom by the time I reached Madinah,” he said.
“I experienced warm hospitality every day in the Kingdom,” said the Moroccan.
Al-Mutairi and his group wanted to make sure Yassin stayed in comfort and surprised him with the offer of a well-stocked caravan.
The group made him Arabic coffee and sang traditional songs celebrating his stay in the Kingdom. Yassin documented the celebration and thanked his hosts.
A member of Al-Mutairi’s group joined the celebration and said: “The reason we came to Abha so fast was because we were touched by your story. I, too, want to gift you something. We will take care of your Hajj expenses for next year.”
Yassin was overwhelmed with emotion and cried with joy.
The traveler called his mother and told her about the surprise for next year. “I have wonderful news for you. My Saudi friends will take care of your Hajj journey next year,” he said, adding that she has never visited Makkah before.
Al-Mutairi and his group were overjoyed to make Yassin and his family’s Hajj wish come true.


Saudi Arabia details travel exemptions

These must provide proof of residency in the country to which they wish to travel. (SPA)
Updated 27 September 2020

Saudi Arabia details travel exemptions

  • In the cases of the death of a spouse, parent, or child abroad, the directorate requires the submission of a death certificate and proof of relationship

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports on Saturday announced requirements for the issue of travel permits for groups exempt from coronavirus travel restrictions. Travel permits will be issued through the Absher e-services platform.
The first group exempt from travel restrictions includes government officials, civilians and members of the military assigned official missions.
This group can obtain travel permits if the official mission cannot be performed remotely and has a deadline that cannot be postponed, provided participation is kept to a minimum.
Documents required for the first group include an official letter from the entity’s senior official, in addition to the names of those who wish to travel and their mission, its location, duration and evidence that the previous conditions are met.
The second group includes citizens with humanitarian cases, especially family reunification, or the death of a spouse, parent or child abroad.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The first group exempt from travel restrictions includes government officials, civilians and members of the military assigned official missions.

• The second group includes citizens with humanitarian cases, especially family reunification, or the death of a spouse, parent or child abroad.

• The third group includes citizens living outside the Kingdom and their dependents.

Citizens who wish to be reunited with their families abroad must provide proof of relationship (spouse, parent, etc.) for the family member residing abroad, proof of residency in the country to which the other party wishes to travel, and proof of the children’s study location abroad if there are children of school age. The last should be certified by the Ministry of Education or one of the Kingdom’s representations in the destination country.
In the cases of the death of a spouse, parent, or child abroad, the directorate requires the submission of a death certificate and proof of relationship.
The third group includes citizens living outside the Kingdom and their dependents. These must provide proof of residency in the country to which they wish to travel (a document or an instrument that they own a property or have a valid lease contract prior to the issuance of these measures).
They must also submit a valid residence card (permanent or semi-permanent) in the country to which the travel is requested and proof that the applicant had spent at least six months in the destination country during the past three years.