JEDDAH: The number of foreign pilgrims who have left the country so far is 300,000, according to an official from the Ministry of Haj.“More than 1.2 million pilgrims are still left in Makkah and 180,000 are visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. They all will leave as per travel schedules prepared for their departure,” Hatim Qadi, dersecretary for Haj affairs at the ministry, told Arab News on Wednesday.Qadi added that the ministry was pleased with the management of Haj this year.“The quality of performance by officials this season was far better than previous years. The number of negative points observed by the ministry were not many,” he said.The process of sending the pilgrims to Madinah and then to their homes was also progressing smoothly, he said.
The United Agents Office, responsible for the transportation of pilgrims at airports, expects an increase in the amount of baggage pilgrims carry with them on their return journey, a report from the office said. “The office is geared up to help pilgrims carry a large number of bags using special equipment including 24 mobile conveyors and 2,300 carts. More than 3,500 workers have been trained for the task,” the report said.The study added that the total weight of the baggage of returning pilgrims, whose number is estimated at 1.7 million, is expected to be approximately 100,000 tons.The baggage first has to be unloaded from each bus mechanically in the airport. Then it is moved to the check-in points of the airline companies before they are put on the conveyor belts to be loaded on the aircraft, the report said.The pleasant weather in Makkah is another factor in making the Haj a success this year, a ministry source said. However, domestic and regional pilgrims who left early had to reportedly wait for unexpectedly long hours for their return flights at the airport.The Saudi Arabian Airlines blamed the long wait on Haj organizations that bring pilgrims to the airport for return flights long before scheduled departures – Arabnews