From Paris to Saudi: Pilgrim walks for over 8,000 km, 13 countries to perform Umrah

The Frenchman started preparing for the journey two years ago by enhancing his physical capabilities and cultivating a love for long-distance walking


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Mohamed Boulabiar. Photo: SPA
Mohamed Boulabiar. Photo: SPA

Published: Thu 16 May 2024, 11:19 AM

French traveller Mohamed Boulabiar spent eight months on a journey on foot to perform Umrah, covering more than 8,000 kilometres starting from Paris and walked through 13 countries to reach Madinah. He will then proceed to Makkah to perform Umrah.

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) met Boulabiar in the courtyards of the Prophet's Mosque, mere hours after completing his journey through various terrains and enduring numerous weather conditions. Despite the difficulties and dangers, these challenges did not deter his goal of reaching the holy sites on foot.

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Boulabiar, born in France to a Tunisian father and a Moroccan mother, remarked, "I did not encounter any problems on the road, but the biggest challenge was the weather. I departed in the summer and arrived in the spring, passing through autumn and winter, enduring storms and thunder. At one stage of the journey, a snowstorm at the Greek border delayed my trip by a week."

He added, "I walked in temperatures of around 40°C, but thankfully, everything went smoothly. I am overjoyed to be here. It has been my dream since childhood to visit Madinah after Makkah. Upon arriving here yesterday, my eyes filled with tears. I am elated to meet the Saudi people. This is my first visit to the Gulf. I received a warm welcome here. People stopped me on the road to offer food and drink, and some even invited me to stay with them. I am immensely grateful to be here and to have completed the journey."

Regarding the inception of the journey and its inspiration, Boulabiar mentioned that he prepared for this odyssey two years ago by enhancing his physical capabilities and cultivating a love for long-distance walking. He meticulously planned the idea and route of the journey, decided to undertake it, and readied himself mentally and physically. The traveller commenced his expedition on August 27, 2023, embarking from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

He elaborated, "I traversed over 8,000 kilometres during the journey, crossing 12 countries before arriving in Saudi Arabia, the 13th country in my journey. I began from France, traversing Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkiye, and Jordan, before finally reaching Saudi Arabia."

Boulabiar detailed that he walked throughout his journey, following the map and carrying essential provisions weighing 25 kilograms, including food, a tent for sleeping and resting. He mentioned that he occasionally spent nights at mosques along his route or with kind-hearted individuals who welcomed him into their homes.

Concluding, Boulabiar emphasised, "I have always harboured a desire to undertake this journey. It has been a dream since childhood. I yearned to arrive in Makkah on foot, emulating the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions." He underscored the significant benefits of walking and its positive impact on his lifestyle.


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