By Own Correspondent – A total of 1,161 intending pilgrims from The Gambia will this year take part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to the Gambia International Airlines, GIA.
Speaking at a briefing held yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel for pilgrims, ahead of their departure to Mecca, Bakary Nyassi, GIA Director General, said the issue of issuing visas has already been completed, while the practical mock is slated for today at the July 22nd Square.
According to him, Ethiopian Airlines will airlift pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in two runs, and each run will carry 518 pilgrims. He further stated that an extra airline has been provided to lift the remaining 125 pilgrims.
“Five medical officers and 23 Hajj guides are to travel with the pilgrims,” he disclosed, adding that Dr Mbye Kah, the Amirul Hajj, will lead the Gambian pilgrims to Mecca.
Nyassi disclosed that departure dates are scheduled for the 30th October and 2nd November 2010. “Under this kind of operation, it is difficult to give the date and time for the pilgrims’ departure,” he said soliciting the patience and understanding of the pilgrims during their stay in Mecca.
While assuring the pilgrims that the GIA will make available good accommodation, both in Madina and Mecca, Nyassi advised them to know their guides, and to use their services anytime, anywhere.
For Nyassi, Gambia’s 2010 Hajj package is the lowest in the sub-region due to the intervention of President Yahya Jammeh. He was, however, quick to assure all that despite the low package, GIA will guarantee a successful 2010 Hajj.
He commended President Jammeh, Secretary General Njogu Bah and all those who in one way or the other contributed towards organising this year’s Hajj.
Imam Abdoulie Fatty of State House Mosque advised the intending pilgrims to perform their Hajj rites according to Islamic principles.
“Maintain faith, have concern for those who need help during the Hajj, remove all hairs under your armpit, and cut your fingernails,” he told the intending pilgrims.
As part of the briefing, the intending pilgrims also viewed a documentary film-show on the 2009 Hajj.