British Foreign Office becomes Hajj Advisory Office sets up consulate for pilgrims in Mecca with Muslim staff
December 15, 2005
A reminder for travellers to the annual Hajj Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca to get their quadrivalent meningitis jab before they leave if they haven't already done so.
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HAJJ PILGRIMAGE 2006: ADVICE TO BRITISH HAJJISTravel Advice: Saudi Arabia).
The information below contains practical advice and explains what services the British Hajj Delegation can offer British Pilgrims should they choose to travel to Saudi Arabia.
1. Travellers Checklist
2. Before you go
3. Arrival and Departure at Jeddah Airport
4. Health and Welfare
5. Help and Assistance
6. Dual Nationality
7. Useful Contact Details
Before you go
A successful pilgrimage requires careful preparation. Talk to those who have already performed the Hajj. Make sure your passport and visa for Saudi Arabia are in order. Take a photocopy of your passport and keep it with you at all times. To comply with Saudi Government regulations, only use a use a travel agent that is accredited with the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in the UK to book travel and accommodation. Be clear about what is included in your package, and confirm the full itinerary for your pilgrimage before departing the UK.
Arrival and Departure at Jeddah Airport
The Saudi authorities take their Hajj responsibilities very seriously. The well-being of pilgrims is very important to them. But the numbers arriving at and departing from Jeddah airport during the Hajj can be daunting. Pilgrims should be prepared for delays. Basic facilities are available, but it is a good idea to take food and water with you. Think of the particular needs of elderly pilgrims travelling with you.
On arrival, the Saudi authorities will take your passport in exchange for a receipt. The Pilgrim Guides Establishment will hold it for you while you are performing Hajj and return it to you on departure. We strongly advise that you carry a photocopy of your passport (back page and visa page) at all times. It is also useful to keep with you the addresses and telephone numbers of your hotel, family and friends.
Health and Welfare
A successful Hajj requires patience and thought to safeguard your and others' safety. Some 2 million pilgrims visit the Holy sites during the Hajj. Some of the Holy places can be very crowded, particularly at the stoning of the Satans at Mina and the circumambulation of the Kaaba. The crowds can be particularly daunting for the elderly or frail.
Pilgrims can become separated from their family or friends. Make a note of the location of your camp and tent and agree a meeting point with family and friends in case you do become separated. The performance of Hajj is physically demanding, even if you are fit.
Pilgrims need to protect themselves from the sun, dehydration, exhaustion, foot problems, and respiratory and bronchial illnesses.
Always make sure you carry enough food and water, an umbrella to protect you from the sun and a spare pair of sandals. Paying particular attention to personal hygiene and sanitation will help you avoid illness. If you are taking medication you should bring an adequate supply, accompanied by a doctor's certificate describing the medication. This will help you avoid problems with Customs. Always carry essential medicines with you.
The Saudi Government provides adequate and widely available services. The British Hajj Delegation can provide emergency medical and consular assistance at Makkah during the Hajj. However, the numbers using all these services can, at times, be overwhelming.
It is compulsory for you to be inoculated with the 'quadrivalent' meningococcal vaccine (ACWY Vac), which protects against four different strains of meningitis.
Consult your GP if you are in any doubt and see the Department of Health website www.dh.gov.uk
The risk of avian flu to British nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia is currently extremely low, but pilgrims should keep themselves updated with the FCO guidance. See Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.
Help and Assistance
We hope that you have a trouble-free Hajj. If something does go wrong British pilgrims will be able to get assistance from either the Consular General in Jeddah or the British Hajj Delegation in Mecca. The 2006 Delegation headed by Lord Patel of Blackburn, is a team of volunteers from the British Muslim Community. They will be in Saudi Arabia throughout the Hajj to provide help and assistance to British Hajjs. The Delegation comprises a team of doctors and counsellors, who will offer initial support and advice. Muslim staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will accompany them, and working with the British Consulate General in Jeddah, the Delegation can provide you with a range of Consular services.
The Delegation will be located in the Al Hateem Tower Hotel, Al Misfala, Ibrahim Al Khalil Street, Makkah (Mecca) – See useful contact details' section.
Working with the British Consulate-General in Jeddah, the delegation will provide you with a full range of consular services.
The Delegation can
The Saudi authorities do not recognise dual nationality and may, therefore, confiscate second passports. Pilgrims should be aware that the Hajj authorities might also group them according to the nationality of the passports they carry. This could result in separation from family and friends if you carry a different passport to them.
Pilgrims travelling on a non-British passport are not entitled to Consular assistance from the British Consulate-General. British nationals who choose to travel on non-British passports should ensure that all British visas or endorsements are clearly shown in that passport.
Any documentation required to re-enter the United Kingdom should be obtained before leaving the UK, to prevent any delays in returning.
Useful Contact Details
In Saudi Arabia
British Hajj Delegation
Al Hateem Tower Hotel, Telephone: (02) 576 0688/0669
Al Misfala, Ibrahim, Al Khalil Street (opposite King Fahad entrance gate, Makkah)
British Consulate-General, Jeddah
Telephone: (02) 622 5550
Fax: (02) 622 6249
Ministry of Hajj
Jeddah, Telephone: (02) 665 5811
Ambulance, Telephone: 997
Police, Telephone: 999
Traffic Accidents, Telephone: 993
Airline Offices in Jeddah
Lufthansa, Telephone: (02) 665 0000
KLM, Telephone: (02) 667 0888
Air France, Telephone: (02) 651 2000
Saudi Air (In Saudi only): 9200 22222
To call the UK from Saudi Arabia dial 0044 before the next number (If the next digit is '0', drop it and dial the next number)
To call Saudi Arabia from the UK dial 00 966 before the next number
http://www.salaam.co.uk/themeofthemonth/september03_index.php?l=4Foreign Office & Dept of Health support for British Hajjis
Over 20,000 British Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage every year. Many also visit Mecca for Umra and travel to Medina to pray in the Prophet's mosque. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office with support from Muslim community organisations has established a Hajj Advisory Group, a body that provides services to British Hajjis such as medical care. A consular office is also established in Mecca during Hajj, with Muslim staff. The Department of Health has also conducted campaigns to notify Muslims of vaccination requirements.