ISLAMABAD: A group of 25 Pakistani bikers is on the way to Makkah to perform the Umrah pilgrimage, as they travel to “promote peace, friendship and religious tourism” through the effort they see as a “journey of refulgence and enlightenment.”
The bikers decided to embark on the journey after the Saudi government eased rules for Umrah pilgrims last year, extending the duration of visas for foreign pilgrims to three months and allowing them to use the permits to travel to cities other than just Makkah.
The group left for the Kingdom from Lahore on Jan. 6.
Their round trip will cover 14,000 km as they go through Iran and the UAE to spend 19 days in Saudi Arabia and also visit Jordan and Iraq on their way back.
“We were planning this trip to perform Umrah by traveling to Makkah from Lahore on bikes since 2019 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, our plan could not materialize,” group leader Mukaram Tareen, who is also the chairman of the Cross Route Club that organized the trip, told Arab News in a telephone interview from Sharjah on Monday, after they entered the UAE.
It took five months of planning to make the trip possible. The journey is self-financed and will cost about 1 million Pakistani rupees ($4,300) per biker.
“We have three aims during this journey of refulgence and enlightenment,” Tareen said.
“Along with performing Umrah, we want to promote peace, friendship, and religious tourism between regional countries.”
Passing through friendly Muslim countries on bikes would promote a positive image of Pakistan, the team leader added.
“We reached Sharjah, UAE, on Sunday and after spending a week in different emirates including Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, we will enter Saudi Arabia on Jan. 22 via the Al-Batha border.”
The group plans to visit tourist sites in the Kingdom to promote tourism opportunities in Saudi Arabia, a main pillar of the Saudi Vision 2030.
“We will visit Riyadh, Al-Rawdah, Taif, Makkah, Madinah, Duba, Tabuk, and different places on the coastal highway,” Tareen said.
For another group member, Jahangir Khan from Gujranwala, it has been his “dream” to travel to Makkah on a motorbike to perform Umrah.
“I have been part of this bikers’ club for the last seven years, and it was always my dream to go on this Safar-e-Noor (journey of light), which is coming true now,” he told Arab News.
“We will also visit different religious places on our route, especially in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.”