FASTER IM­MI­GRA­TION CLEARANCE

Pil­grims to be housed in ho­tels near Prophet’s Mosque

New Straits Times - - NEWS / NATION - SOFEA CHOK SUAT LING

MALAYSIAN haj pil­grims will not just en­joy fast-track Im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice this year, but will be housed in com­fort­able and spa­cious ho­tels here very close to the Prophet’s Mosque.

The fur­thest ho­tel for Malaysian pil­grims from the court­yard of the mosque is just 300m. Two ho­tels — Al Haram and An­war Al Madinah Möven­pick — are merely 100m away from the mosque’s court­yard.

Malaysian haj af­fairs vice-con­sul Affandi Ab­dul­lah said Tabung Haji (TH) en­sured all ho­tels were within walk­ing dis­tance from the mosque, and as such, pil­grims should take ad­van­tage of the prox­im­ity to per­form the five daily prayers and other sup­ple­men­tary prayers there.

“The Prophet’s Mosque or Masjid Nabawi is so near for them so they should go un­less there are unavoid­able cir­cum­stances pre­vent­ing them from do­ing so,” Affandi, who is also TH op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor in Madinah, told Malaysian me­dia af­ter in­spect­ing the rooms for pil­grims at the Al Haram Ho­tel here. Present was TH man­ager for the Zone 1 Ser­vices Cen­tre Fisol Nayan.

The first batch of 483 pil­grims will be ar­riv­ing here to­day.

The Prophet’s Mosque is Is­lam’s sec­ond holi­est site af­ter the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

It was built by Prophet Muham­mad af­ter his emi­gra­tion to Madinah. The mosque now in­cor­po­rates his fi­nal rest­ing place, as well as those of the first two caliphs, Abu Bakar and Umar.

A sin­gle prayer per­formed at the Prophet’s Mosque is equiv­a­lent to a thou­sand prayers per­formed any­where else.

Pil­grims tra­di­tion­ally visit Madinah to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque ei­ther be­fore they be­gin the haj rit­u­als or once they have com­pleted it.

Affandi said at the Al Haram Ho­tel, there were three types of rooms which could ac­com­mo­date four, five or eight pil­grims each.

“We can place 3,030 pil­grims in this 14-floor ho­tel, which has just been re­painted and had new car­pets in­stalled.

“Among the ser­vices avail­able at this ho­tel are cash with­drawals, coun­selling and oth­ers,” he said, adding that the fa­cil­i­ties at the other ho­tels were sim­i­lar.

“The beds are also high enough for the pil­grims to stow their lug­gage un­der them.”

He said lunch and din­ner were pre­pared for pil­grims and they could col­lect their packed meals at des­ig­nated times from the cafe.

TH has se­cured ac­com­mo­da­tion for Malaysian haj pil­grims in nine ho­tels here, grouped un­der three zones, with each zone pro­vid­ing the full suite of TH ser­vices for pil­grims, in­clud­ing re­li­gious ad­vice, med­i­cal, fi­nan­cial, postal, coun­selling and com­mu­ni­ca­tions fa­cil­i­ties.

The ho­tels can take in 9,661 pil­grims at any one time.

The first batch of 483 pil­grims fly­ing out on an Air­bus A380 will be land­ing at the Prince Mo­ham­mad Ab­du­laziz In­ter­na­tional Air­port here.

“Due to the new fast-track Im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice, pil­grims will get pre-clearance in Kuala Lumpur. Upon ar­rival in Madinah, they will only need to get their lug­gage scanned and can im­me­di­ately board the bus to the ho­tel.

“They need not worry about their bag­gage as it will be brought to their rooms by TH per­son­nel,” Affandi said.

TH’s haj depart­ment se­nior gen­eral man­ager Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Ab­dul Rah­man had said on Wed­nes­day that there would be faster and smoother check­ins for the 30,200 Malaysians per­form­ing the haj this year, as part of a joint ini­tia­tive by Saudi Ara­bia and the Malaysian gov­ern­ment to make it eas­ier for the pil­grims.

The wait­ing pe­riod for pil­grims at the ter­mi­nal would be re­duced from five hours to two through this ini­tia­tive, he said.

Mean­while, Affandi said TH would try to place spouses and fam­ily mem­bers close to­gether, if pos­si­ble on the same floor with men and women in sep­a­rate rooms.

Due to the new fast-track im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice, pil­grims will get pre-clearance in Kuala Lumpur. Upon ar­rival in Madinah, they will only need to get their lug­gage scanned and can im­me­di­ately board the bus to the ho­tel. AFFANDI AB­DUL­LAH

Malaysian haj af­fairs vice-con­sul

Malaysian haj af­fairs vice-con­sul Affandi Ab­dul­lah (left) and TH man­ager for the Zone 1 Ser­vices Cen­tre Fisol Nayan in­spect­ing the Al Haram Ho­tel in Madinah yes­ter­day.

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