Haj 2022: Meet 3 friends cycling from Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia via UAE

After covering thousands of miles, the trio from the central Asian country’s capital city have now reached Dubai



Photo: Shihab/KT
Photo: Shihab/KT
by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 3 Jun 2022, 5:52 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Jun 2022, 11:23 PM

Three friends cycling from Tajikistan to Makkah to perform Haj, said it has been an unforgettable spiritual journey - a journey filled with adventure, kindness and hope.

After covering thousands of miles, the trio from the central Asian country’s capital city of Dushanbe have now reached the UAE.

For Gafurov Dilovar, Nazarov Saidali and Talabov Shokir, all in their 30s, the tough road journey was one of the only possible ways to go on the pilgrimage. According to reports, the Tajikistan government restricts citizens below 40 years of age from taking the pilgrimage and seeks to give older people a chance.

Photo: Shihab/KT
Photo: Shihab/KT

“We are all friends. We decided to undertake the pilgrimage on our cycles. We have prepared for this journey since the start of the year. We are on a month-long bike ride. We have faced several issues from hot weather, sand and dust storms, and windy conditions, to flat tyres, language barriers, sleeping on the road and other stuff, but we have overcome all these hurdles. Now we are waiting to get visas from the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Dubai to continue our journey,” said Dilovar, a 37-year-old entrepreneur and father of two children.

They started the journey after the Holy month of Ramadan from Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe.
They started the journey after the Holy month of Ramadan from Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe.

Dilovar has recorded and posted key moments on his Instagram handle.

In a strange coincidence, the trio are in the UAE on World Bicycle Day, which falls on June 3.

From the rugged mountains, the biking trio, who speak only Russian and Persian, began their journey after the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. They first tried to ride through neighbouring Turkmenistan but an entry into the country mandated a 20-day Covid-19 quarantine. So they sought to find an alternative way through the Afghanistan-Uzbekistan border, but again failed because of the new geopolitical situation. Then they rode to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, while covering areas like the 2,000-year-old historical city of Bukhara.

“When one door got shut, another would open. The routes kept changing, but our journey never stopped. We are here in Dubai with the hope of getting visas to visit Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj,” said 31-year-old Saidali, who runs a grocery shop, and a father of three.

From Tashkent, they flew to Baku in Azerbaijan, and then hit the road criss-crossing through several ancient cities of Iran like Qazvin – the country’s calligraphy capital and Isfahan – one of the most important cities in the Silk Roads programme. They finally took a ferry from Bandar Abbas to reach Sharjah.

Photo: Shihab/KT
Photo: Shihab/KT

“This has been quite a journey of spiritual awakening. We have been through villages and mountain areas, riding in soaring heat during daytime and cold nights. We ate by the roadside and camped outside mosques at night. We travelled with essential equipment like maps, tents, some snacks etc,” said 34-year-old Shokir, a businessman and father of four.

They have prayed at several landmark mosques and paid their tributes on the tombs of martyrs and saints.

Catching a bite on the road.
Catching a bite on the road.

“In the past 30 days, we have been to different countries and cultures, and made a lot of new friends. We have learnt a lot of new lessons in life. We could help people fix their flat tyres. We got support from several people whom we met for the first time. We always believed we could complete this pilgrimage to Haj, and we are now almost there. We hope to get visas soon to travel,” Dilovar added after his visit to the Consulate on Friday.

In Dubai, they are being assisted by their friend Mohammed Jon.


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