Saudi Gazette – After completing their Haj in total peace, security and comfort, the guests of God started their journey back home with 105,344 of them departing on Saturday through the Kingdom’s air, sea and land crossing points.
Khaled Al-Harbe, in charge of Haj and Umrah affairs at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) said 40,000 pilgrims departed for their respective homes on Saturday on board 210 scheduled and additional flights.
He said the first international Haj return flight was made by Pakistan Air Blue carrying 280 pilgrims.
“As many as 4,000 flights will depart from KAIA to transport more than 750,000 pilgrims until Oct. 15, the date fixed for the last Haj flight from the Kingdom,” he said.
Harbe said the passengers who come to the Haj terminal eight hours before the flight time will be allowed entry to the lounges, those who come 12 hours earlier will be directed to stay at the outside plaza while those who arrive at the terminal more than 12 hours before their flight time will not be allowed to enter and their Haj companies will be responsible for the accommodation and feeding.
A total of 1,8,62,909 pilgrims performed Haj this year including 1,325,372 who came from outside and 537,537 domestic. More than 500,000 pilgrims are in Madinah these days to pay respects to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and pray in his mosque.
Some 300 pilgrims who were invited to perform the Haj under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s Program for Haj and Umrah have left for their respective homes.
Under the King’s program, 1,400 pilgrims came for the Haj from 61 countries around the world. The King has also invited 1,000 Palestinians from the families and relatives of the martyrs to do the pilgrimage at his own personal expense.
The pilgrims were transported by 16,113 buses of which about 2,000 were rented from inside at prices ranging from SR20,000 to SR30,000 depending on the condition and the model of the bus for the Haj period. There are about 204 Haj transport companies of which 23 are members of the General Syndicate of Cars, which is responsible for transport during the Haj. According to a report by the syndicate, the transport companies have this year bought 1,106 brand new buses.
Saad Al-Qurashi, chairman of the transport committee at Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the renting of cars from outside was stopped this year. “We used to spend millions of riyals on renting cars from outside specifically from Egypt, Turkey and Syria but this year we rented from the local market,” he said.
Qurashi said about 30 percent of the pilgrims this year were transported by the Mashaer train, which made more than 17,000 trips. The General Authority of Statistics said the Mashaer train made a total of 1,757 trips between Makkah and the Holy Sites in six days, which began on Dhul Hijja 8 (Sept. 10).
The authority said on the Arafat Day, the train made 239 trips carrying 300,600 pilgrims from Mina to Arafat. The train also made 124 trips from Arafat to Muzdalifah transporting 310,000 pilgrims and 132 trips from Muzdalifah to Mina on the Eid day during which it transported 270,000 pilgrims. The authority said the train made 1,018 trips between the Holy Sites in which 975,272 pilgrims were transported.