UAE: Residents delighted to perform Haj this year

More pilgrims have been able to get permits in 2022 than in the previous two years



File photo
File photo

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 6:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 7:50 PM

UAE residents lucky enough to have received permits for the Haj pilgrimage this year are looking forward to fulfilling the fifth pillar of Islam.

With Saudi Arabia announcing permits for one million Muslims to perform the annual pilgrimage this year, more people have been able to get permits than in the previous two years, when it was severely restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2020, after the pandemic struck, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims to perform the Haj, while last year, they upped the total to 60,000 fully vaccinated people chosen through a lottery. This year, however, the increased number of permits saw many expats in the UAE applying through allocated country quotas after meeting all the prerequisites laid down by the authorities.

Aamer Husain, 50, from the Indian state of Maharashtra, applied for his permit as soon as he heard the news in April. Husain had planned to perform the Haj in 2020 but the pandemic shattered his plans.

On receiving the permit this year, a delighted Husain said: “We have been through tough times in recent years and the Haj was even restricted to Saudi residents. I was afraid I would succumb to Covid before I could performing my Haj duties, but by the grace of the almighty, my application was accepted and I will be flying to from Mumbai or Pune.”

Husain, an engineer who works at a private firm in Sharjah, will be performing the Haj with his wife and mother.

Saba Musani, a Pakistani national residing in Dubai who works for Pfizer, has been longing to take her parents for the Haj for more two years now. She has received permits for herself and her husband this year, along with her parents. “I am really glad we all will be going together,” Musani said.

The family has planned a trip of 17 days and will be leaving from Pakistan. “We will reach Makkah directly with an intention to perform Umrah, followed by all the necessary rituals of Haj later,” Musani said.

Meanwhile, the number of Indian expats in the UAE travelling for the Haj has gone down significantly this year, said Yahya Hallare of Arafah International Tours and Travels, a Haj aggregator based in Indian state of Karnataka.

Indian Muslims residing in the UAE are required to fly for the Haj from their home country and Hallare said the prime reason for the fall in their numbers this year is the cost.

“The cost per trip is up by 50 per cent. It was about Dh2,000 for a five-day accommodation during 8th of Zulhaj to 13th of Zulhaj and now it’s nearly Dh7,000,” Hallare said.

Doctor’s advice on health safety during Haj

A UAE medico has advised UAE residents going on Haj to take precautions for their health and safety during the pilgrimage.

Reminding pilgrims to observe all precautionary measures, Dr Abhilash Ramachandran, specialist internal medicine at Aster Hospital, Qusais, said: “Elderly pilgrims and those with chronic diseases should consult their doctors and assess their health status before embarking on the journey.”

He also cautioned pilgrims that they are at increased risk of food-borne bacterial and virus infections. “Make sure the food you take is freshly and adequately cooked and that it is hygienic,” Dr Ramachandran added.

Dr Ramachandran’s tips for a safe Haj:

  • Consult your doctor to see whether you are appropriately vaccinated against Covid
  • Pilgrims should have received Meningococcal vaccines.
  • Those with chronic and lifestyle diseases must check with their doctor before embarking on the journe
  • They must carry the prescribed medicines and must take them as advised by the doctor
  • It would also be useful to carry a copy of their medical records in case they experience an emergency
  • Consuming adequate quantities of water and keeping the body cool are important during the pilgrimage
  • Dehydration can quickly turn critical
  • Heat stroke and non-exertional and exertional heat illnesses are potentially fatal conditions that can occur during pilgrimage in the high summer temperatures.
  • Wearing loose cotton clothing, using shades and a cooling cloth are important
  • Symptoms that should not be neglected and need prompt medical attention include: dizziness, fatigue, high body temperature, increased breathing rate, fast heart rate, mild behavioural changes like irritability and agitation, cramps, muscle pains and reduced urine formation

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