MAKKAH: A group of 25 Pakistani bikers arrived on their motorcycles in Makkah, after riding for 22 days and 14,000 km from Pakistan, via Iran and the UAE.
The group started their journey in Lahore on Jan. 6 and arrived in the holy city on Jan. 28. The group, called the Cross Route Club, is planning to stay in Saudi Arabia for 19 days.
The bikers decided to embark on the journey after the Saudi government announced that overseas visitors willing to perform Umrah can extend visa periods to three months, allowing them to use travel permits to visit cities other than Makkah.
Arab News met with the members of the club in Makkah during their special reception, held at the Ministry of Sports’ offices in the city, attended by Pakistani Press Counselor Syed Hamzah Gilani and other local authorities and dignitaries.
Aun Muhammed Khan, a lawyer and member of the Cross Route Club, told Arab News that while in Makkah to perform Umrah, the group aimed to promote peace, brotherhood and friendship, and to explore Saudi Arabia during their stay.
Khan said that the idea for the trip came from Mukaram Tareen, the chairman of the Cross Route Club. “We were supposed to perform Umrah by traveling to Makkah from Lahore on bikes in 2019, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, our plan was postponed,” he said. “As soon as we got the first opportunity, we came through.
“Culturally, Saudi Arabia is a very diversified and vast nation, and as Muslims, it is the most important place on Earth. Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman’s) vision for tourism is the key for us. We are responding to his request to come and explore Saudi Arabia.”
Khan said that as bikers, the trip was heavenly for them as they were able to pass through long roads and beautiful landscapes.
He thanked the people of Saudi Arabia for their generosity and warm hospitality. “We received a great reception here and whenever we go out with our motorcycles ... the support and love we are receiving right now is just incredible,” he said.
Mohammed Suhail Akhtar, who is specialized in training development back in Pakistan and an active member of the Cross Route Club, said: “This is a magnificent experience, and for me, it is one of the best adventures I have ever had on my bike because we had the chance to meet local people from different countries and at the same time explore local cities in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the UAE.”
Akhtar, who previously traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2009 by plane, expressed his happiness at the huge transformation the Kingdom has experienced since his last visit. “Things have really changed, and we noticed that since we arrived at the Saudi border,” he said.
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.
After the 19-day stay in the Kingdom, the bikers’ convoy will depart for home via Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, and Iran.