Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to perform Hajj from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Step by Step Guide (Updated)

Originally Posted on 30th October 2014:

 
urShadow's Blog: Useful Information for People Performing Hajj in 2015 (Updated)
 
 
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(Update: 4th August 2014) Every year Ministry of Hajj offers discounted packages to some of the Hajj agents, more information can be found on this link: Low Cost Hajj Package for 2014 in Saudi Arabia (Men Only)


Categories and Allocation of Camps in Mina and Arafat

Hajj services advertise themselves with categories, that we are in Category A or B or H etc. Usually it is considered that Category A is the best and than B and so on. Let me explain what does these categories actually mean: The Camps in Mina are geographically divided into blocks. The columns are divided into A, B, C …. and the rows are divided into 1, 2, 3… Plz note that all blocks do not contain camps.
Jamaraat is present in A1, A2, B1 and B2. So if your camp is in these blocks or near these blocks then you are nearest to Jamaraat and that would mean ease in doing rami. Also ease in going to haram because you are nearest to Haram in Mina. This area is most expensive.
When there were no trains then these locations were extremely important because people from farther side of Mina had to walk or had to travel by Bus to reach Jamaraat and it use to take hours and hours. Now due to trains, the blocks which are near to the train stations are also considered Hotspots.
  • Mina 3 Train Station is in A3
  • Mina 3 Train Station is in F5
  • Mina 1 Train Station is in H6
If you are near these blocks then you can use train relatively easily to reach Jamaraat and also to reach Arafat and Muzdalifah.
image

Another important point is that the allocation of camps in Mina is according to Nationalities. i.e. different countries are given different locations so if you are coming from a country outside KSA, it might not be possible to get a camp near Jamaraat. Below snapshot shows allocation of different countries in Mina with the help of colors:
image

Below snapshot shows allocation of different countries in Arafat with the help of colors:
image

16th June: The Ministry of Hajj announced that due to the construction going on in Haram, they would reduce 50% Hajjis from KSA and 20% from the rest of the world.

21st September: The Hajj service we chose was “Saoud A. Al-Joma’a & Companions Co.” famously known as “Al-Joma’a”. This service has been working in Riyadh for last 23 years. Their location in Mina is in A Category. The rate was SR12,700 per head for travelling through bus and SR14,700 per head for travelling through airplane. We booked for the bus option, the service requested my name, number of seats, mobile number and money in order to perform the booking and they provided me with a receipt. This rate was later reduced by the service and the new rates were SR11,500 by bus and SR 13,400 by airplane. We were returned the additional money we had given. Also if we wanted to leave this service after booking in order to join another than they would have deducted SR1000 per head.

Location of Al-Joma’a in Riyadh

Coordinates: 24.592039,46.650111
Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/cfaPY

Later we also came to know about discounted Hajj services, the details can be read on this link : Important and Urgent News for People Planning to Perform Hajj this year in KSA! (Updated)

25th September: The service asked us to provide the following:
  • Hajj Form (Signed by your qafeel to confirm you are allowed to perform Hajj as per your employment contract) - An Online Copy of the Hajj Form
  • 4x6 photos (2 each) - Name written on the back
  • Copy of My Iqama and my Wife’s Iqama on separate pages
  • Copy of the passports
  • Meningitis Injection for Hajj (Vaccination)’s document
  • Blood group’s document
They also informed that they will provide all documents to us on 6th Zilhajj (11th October) and our Bus would leave Riyadh on 7th Zilhajj (12th October) and we will leave Mina for Riyadh on 13th Zilhajj (18th October).
We got the injections from Kingdom Hospital which cost us SR350/head. They gave us a small card with a stamp which would be used as a proof of our vaccination. Later I got to know that in a cheaper hospital/clinic it would cost less.
Thus we got our Blood Group checked from Mursalat Clinic and it cost us SR25/head. They gave us a plain printed paper with blood group mentioned on it.

    To check the Status of Tasrie online

    To check if your Hajj Permit (tasrie) has been issued by the Ministry of Hajj you can visit the following link and can enter your Iqama number:
    http://eservices.haj.gov.sa/eservices3/haj/hajInquery.xhtml
    Tasrie is the Hajj Permit from the Ministry of Hajj which makes you eligible to perform Hajj. Without tasrie you are considered doing illegal Hajj as per Saudi Government Law.
    (Update: 25th September 2014): A more detailed process of checking tasrie is given on the following link:

    How to check Hajj Tasreeh (Permit) is genuine? - Life in Saudi Arabia
    Clip Better http://life-in-saudiarabia.blogspot.com/2014/09/how…
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    On 7th October we went in search of Odorless Soups. We found QV Bar Soups of SR 29 each from Kunooz Alseha, Takasussi Street, Riyadh. (It was good that we bought these soups because the soups provided to us by the service in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah were all perfumed soups.)

    On 11th October I received the documents from Al-Joma’a. The documents didn’t contain the ‘tasrie’, the reason given by the service was that the Ministry of Hajj changed the format of tasrie on 10th October and asked all agents to collect the tasrie(s) again from the Ministry of Hajj with the new format. The difference was only in the color of the logo, previous tasrie had black logo and new tasrie had green logo.
    So without tasrie, the documents provided by the agent were:
    • Wristband (In Arabic)
      • image
      • These wristbands contained paper slip with following information(In Arabic):
        • Name of the Service
        • Their Tasrie number
        • My Address/Location in Mina and Arafat
        • Service Contact numbers
        • My Name
      • These wristbands were very light to wear and were very strong: you cannot break them with your hands while wearing them.
      • The lock of the band was for one time use only, i.e. once you lock the wristband then it cannot be opened, it can only be cut so only lock it once you are sure you have wore it properly.

    • ID Card (In Arabic)
      • image   image
      • This front side of the Card had following information:
        • Name and Contact number of the service.
        • My Hajji Number
        • My Name
        • My mode of Transportable from Riyadh to Makkah
        • My Bus number
        • My Seat number in the bus
        • My Camp number in Mina
        • My bed number in my camp in Mina
      • This back side of the Card had following information:
        • My address/location in Mina with coordinates.
        • My address/location in Arafat with coordinates.
      • Google Maps images for address/location in Mina and Arafat were also included in the badge:
      • image
      • image
      • The location of camps should be provided by your Hajj service before you leave Riyadh. It is handy in case you get lost or if you want to travel at your own. It will also give you an idea how good the locations are (means near to Jamarah and Train Stations).

    • Al-Joma’a Information Pamphlet (In Arabic)
      • It stated that they are providing facility for Hajj Qiran so they would directly take us to haram where we would perform Umrah and then they would take us to Mina. While coming back, they would take us to haram for Tawaf ul Widah and then to Riyadh.
      • It also listed all the facilities which would be available to us like:
        • Camps in Mina and Arafat with Desert Coolers and other facilities
        • All Supervisors are Saudis
        • Facility for people on wheelchair
        • 24hr Security
        • Cleaners available 24hr
        • Separate male and female doctors
        • Sheikh for lectures and consultation
        • Open Buffet and Tea/Coffee, Juices, Cold Drinks, Cold Water, Dates and Fruits
        • Train ticket for travelling from Mine to Arafat and then Muzdalifah and then back to Mina

    • Pocket Books
      • These book contained information about how to perform Hajj and Masnoon Duas but all of these books were in Arabic.

    The service told me that my new tasrie would be available by 10pm or I can come by 6am the next day to collect it. My bus had to leave at 7am so this seemed more suitable option and I opted for it.

    12th October: The start of Journey and Umrah

    We reached Al-Joma’a office by 6:11am, they provided me the tasrie. The buses were parked near, I parked my car and loaded my luggage in the bus, the bus seemed neat and clean and comfortable. The list of people names was available outside each bus. There was a box of Herfy Foods on each seat of the bus, the box had snacks, juice and water. There was one person from the organizers in our bus. Our travel started around 8:30am. The bus had separate sections for men and women and almost all of the passengers had 2 seats so the journey was comfortable. The driver and the organizer was good. Before leaving Riyadh check post there was checking for all buses and they had to get a paper and only then they could cross the check post. It took sometime to get that paper, after that the driver stopped around 12:15pm for Zuhar. There was a camp on that petrol pump who were giving free Hajj related books, Qurans and some snacks to Hajjis. I got a small book in English on how to perform Hajj and Umrah and a few snacks.
    Then on the request of an old man the driver stopped at around 2pm on a pump. Then he stopped at around 3:30pm for lunch, we offered Asar there. Then he stopped around 6:30pm in Miqat. We put on Ahram and offered Magrib and Isha there. There were many check posts on the way and 2 of them stopped us and they checked papers from driver and organizer. Before leaving Miqat there was another checking, this time they checked tasrie of each passenger and this checking took a lot of time. After that there was heavy traffic but no breaks till we reach Haram till around 12am. The bus parked in a parking near haram and we performed Umrah. The Metaf was full thus we performed tawaf on ground floor on the raised floor, i.e. the area before the stairs to metaf. It took us 1 hr to perform tawaf. Then we performed Sahi on 1st floor as the ground floor was crowded. Then we came back to bus and started journey to Mina. We reached Mina around 3am. We were guided to our camps and beds and we slept for an hour and woke u for Fajr and then we slept again.
    IMG-20131011-03541IMG-20131012-03543

    13th October: The day in Mina

    We took rest the whole day. When we came the camp was not full but till Zuhar of 13th everyone came, the camp was on the mountain thus we had to take stairs to reach it, we had to climb around 2 floors. The camp was neat and clean, it was fully carpeted. Rooms distributions was as follows:
    • There was a room used as kitchen where they use to prepare tea etc.
    • There was place for workers to sleep
    • There was a big praying room
    • There was a small room where there were supervisors
    • There was another small room where the sheikh was staying
    • There was a medium size room where Buffet used to be served
    • There was a small room as clinic
    • There were 10 washrooms (permanent construction)
    • There were 4 fridges full of water, juices and cold drinks.
    • Rest of the rooms contained beds (beds are sofa cum bed, you can fold them to make sofa for sitting or bed for lying, 2 light comforters were given with each bed. There was a shelf over beds to put your language. (It is a good idea to take your power extension with you for charging your mobile). The list of people names was available outside each room.
    • Above mentioned setup was also available for women section.
    IMG-20131013-03544IMG-20131013-03553
    imageIMG-20131013-03545
    The food was not cooked in the camp, a catering service use to bring the food. The timings for the food were:
    • Breakfast 7am to 11am
    • Lunch 1pm to 5pm
    • Dinner 7pm to 11pm
    Usually the food use to arrive 1 hr late. The Buffet use to contain several main course items and sweet dishes. The food was is abundance quantity and was tasty. In the evening we were given our train tickets which were in the form of wristbands. The lock of the band was for one time use only, i.e. once you lock the wristband then it cannot be opened, it can only be cut so only lock it once you are sure you have wore it properly.
    image

     

    The location of our camp in Mina (Green Arrow):

    Coordinates: 21.425683,39.870854
    Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/Zfq61
    clip_image002

    14th October: The day of Arafat and Night at Muzdalifah

    We left camp on foot with the whole group at around 7:30am, we walked to the Mina train station 3 and took the train from there, we reached Arafat and walked to the camp in Arafat. From Mina Camp to Arafat Camp it took us 1.5 hr. The camp in Arafat was a big tent with desert coolers and temporary WCs. We were served lunch there. Cold water, juices and cold drinks were also available. If you are interested to go to Masjid Nimra then you should go there as early as possible because people start coming there since Fajr and a few hours before Zuhar it is already full. Our organizers had arranged live transmission of Khutba being delivered in Masjid Nimra.
    The organizer also asked me if I want to do Hadi (sacrifice) through them, the minimum cost was SR600/goat. I opted for that and paid them the money. We left Arafat after Magrib at around 7:30pm and took train and reached Muzdalifah and walked to our camp in Muzdalifah. This took us 2.5 hr. This was the most crowded part of our whole Hajj.
    In Muzdalifah there were big tents with no rooms. The washrooms were in small camps without lights and water thus washrooms were not good. It is highly recommended that you plan yourself in a way that you don’t have to use washroom in Muzdalifah. We were served dinner boxes which had snacks. We gathered stones there and stored them in half liter disposable bottles. We were provided sleeping bags and the night there was under open sky.
     
    The location of my camp in Arafat (Green Arrow):
    Coordinates: 21.343237,39.962533
    Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/lXl6b
    clip_image004
    The train station visible above is “Arafat Train Station 3”
     
    The location of my camp in Muzdalifah (Green Arrow):
    Coordinates: 21.388708,39.897182
    Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/pfZm9
    image

     

    15th October: Rami, Hadi and Halk

    Immediately after Fajr we left Muzdalifah with the group, took the train and went directly to the Jamaraat, there we did Rami on 4th floor and walked back to our camp in Mina. From Camp in Muzdalifah to Camp in Mina, it took us a total of 2hr. It is recommended to choose 3rd or 4th floor of Jamaraat to avoid crowd. Then we had breakfast and took some rest. I got the confirmation about the Hadi before Asar and I went for Halk (Shaving my head) to a near by shop. It charged me SR30. There was also a free facility available inside the camp for Halk in the morning. After that I came out of Ihram and rest of the day was spent in Camp.
    clip_image001

    16th October: Tawaf ul Ziyara, Sahi and Rami

    Immediately after Fajr we left Mina for Haram alone to perform Tawaf ul Ziyara. We planned to walk but as soon as we came out of camp there was a bus going to Haram, it charged SR50/head and it dropped us near Haram. The Metaf was still full thus we performed tawaf at the same place as our 1st tawaf. Then we performed Sahi and then we started walking towards Mina, in the way we took Taxi which charged us SR50 and dropped us just after a kilometer as the cars were not allowed after that point so if you don’t have any problem then I would recommend you to walk all the way as taking Taxi won’t make much difference. We reached in camp before Zuhar, after Zuhar we took some rest and then left for Rami. From Camp to back in camp it took us 1hr. We chose 3rd floor. Rest of the day was spent in camp.

    17th October: Rami

    After Fajr we walked to Masjid Khaif in Mina, it was full of people sleeping and there was no place to pray thus we came back. After Zuhar we performed Rami and rest of day was spent in the camp. Most of the people left after performing Rami and the camp was almost empty.
    image

    18th October: Rami, Tawaf ul Widah and End of Journey

    After Fajr we walked on streets of Mina, it was mostly empty now. After Zuhar we performed Rami and after lunch, we all left for haram on bus. Roads were very crowded thus it took us some time to reach haram. We offered Asar there and then started the Tawaf ul Wida. The place where we use to perform tawaf was full thus we went to 1st floor and there we completed our tawaf in 1.5hr. We were able to complete it just before Magrib. By that time this floor was also full. We roamed around in the newly constructed part of Haram and offered Isha there and then we came back to the bus. We reached back in Riyadh at around 8am.
    image

    How to perform Hajj

    There is difference of opinion among different schools of thoughts about a few aspects of Hajj. You can follow the scholars of the school of though you follows, here are a few guides:
    1. eBook: Hajj Mabroor by Molana Mohammad Najeeb Sambhali (in URDU)
    2. A walk through the Essentials of Hajj in a easy to follow Series
    3. GETTING THE BEST OUT OF HAJJ - Ismail Davids–Online Seminar
    4. Words of Advice to Pilgrims Before Performing Hajj and Q&A by Mohammad Al-Arefe
    5. ProudUmmah - Importance of Shoe Bag in Hajj & Umrah pilgrimage
    6. Hajj(pilgrimage) Short Animated Guide
    7. Hajj: The best place & the best time by Karim AbuZaid
    8. This is not exactly related to Hajj but this can give you a feel of importance of Hajj for some people. I would highly recommend to listen to it without interruptions. It is in Urdu: Zia Mohyeddin reads Asad Muhammad Khan - basawday ki maryam

    If you want to buy a Wheelchair

    If you are looking to buy a wheelchair then you can find it in pharmacies near Bin Dawood Mall. If you want to buy a better one with better built quality and features then you can ask for directions for Tareeq(road) Ibrahim Khalil, it is not far from haram. You would find pharmacies there but it is expected to be expensive. For relatively cheaper wheelchair you can take taxi and visit Azizia area near City Plaza, there is a big Nahati pharmacy and there are other pharmacies as well. A more cheaper option is to go to Kakiya, where you would find wholesales shops but this place is far from haram.

    (Update: 24th September 2014)

    In case of Medical Emergency

    If you need Emergency Medical Services (An Ambulance) you can call Red Crescent KSA Ambulance Emergency Number: 997.

    The stats given by Saudi Gazette for Hajj 2013

    image

    Asad Madni Group

    This is a famous hajj service for Urdu speaking people. Their rate in 2012 was SR5000 and in 2013 was SR10,500. The poster for 2012 is given below:


    Contact Numbers:
    Shaikh Asadullah Othman Madni
    050 342 5235
    055 965 6109
    054 158 6461
    Related Links: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/nijangal/Uj_2lq4m7vA/24rYkGwwUygJ


    -urShadow

    Low Cost Hajj Package for 2014 in Saudi Arabia (Men Only) (Updated)

    Originally Posted on Monday, 04 August, 2014:

     
    urShadow's Blog: Useful Information for People Performing Hajj in 2015 (Updated)
     
     
    Clip Betterhttp://naumankhan.blogspot.com/2015/05/useful-infor…
     
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    Update (9th September 2014):
    The Hajj Ministry announced a program with a name "Local Haj Low Fare". There a number of Packages starting from 2500SAR up to 5250 SAR. Price set for the program (Haj Low Fare) according to categories of camps

    Transport in Holy Places  A1  A2  B  C  D1  D2  H
    By Buses   5000  4800  4400  4150  3600  3100  2500
    By Train    5250  5050  4650  4400  3850  3350  2750

    Government Website for Low Cost Hajj:
    Local Hajj - Low Cost Hajj
    Ministry of Haj Local Haj Low Fare
    Clip Better http://locallowfare.haj.gov.sa/LF/steps.xhtml
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    This website is also offering help:

    المنسك لحملات وبرامج الحج
    المنسك لحملات وبرامج الحج
    Clip Better http://www.almansak.net/#!almnsaken/c94b
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    Arab News:


    Low-cost Haj scheme just a click away
    There is good news for thousands of expatriates and citizens who intend to perform the Haj pilgrimage this year.
    Clip Better http://www.arabnews.com/news/623036
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    Suspense surrounds names of low-cost Haj operators
    The Haj Ministry is all set to hand over accommodation blocks in Mina to low-cost Haj operators ahead of the annual pilgrimage.
    Clip Better http://www.arabnews.com/news/saudi-arabia/617466
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    Rates of Hajj Groups for 2014:

    • Al Faris Hajj Group (English Hajj Group) is offering Low Cost Hajj for SR 4,000, their normal rate is from SR 11,800 to SR 13,000 (700 for sacrifice). Their office is at back of Black Box (on King Fahad Road). Call Khalid at Al Faris on 0506401144

    • Asad Madani Hajj Group (Urdu Hajj Group) is offering Hajj for SR 7,000 by bus from Riyadh and 8,700 by Plane in Mina Extension. By Bus in Mina B1 - Cost SR 9500. Shaikh Asad Madani 0503425235 and Mahmood 050 945 6721

    • Al-Tayyar (AlFajr) Hajj Group is offering Hajj for SR 14,800.

    • Al Athari Hajj Group is offering Hajj for SR 7300 By Bus in Mina D1. Contact :: 053 026 4732

    Update (11th August 2014):

    From: Adnan ul Haque
     
    I planned to perform Hajj ‘alone, without family’ this year (2014 AD, 1435 AH). I started searching for different hajj packages in Riyadh, consulting with friends and relatives who previously performed hajj. Although my budget allows me to opt for luxury package but I decided to reserve that luxury for next year when my family will accompany me , inshallah. This isolate my selection to low cost budget packages.
     
    I came across “low cost hajj packages” information from one of the blogs written by my office colleague http://naumankhan.blogspot.com/2014/08/low-cost-hajj-packages-for-2014-in.html. There was an information of one of the hajj operator in Riyadh who was offering hajj package for ONLY SAR 2500 !!. This was indeed surprising as the lowest possible package , which I got from last 3 weeks search, was SAR 7000. Also, people were telling me scary stories about these low cost packages , like “these operator will promise everything at the time of booking but will just drop you at mina without any facility and you will be on your own ….??”.
     
    In order to confirm their authenticity , I decided to browse Ministry of Hajj Official site http://www.haj.gov.sa/en-us/Pages/Home.aspx and fortunately there was an announcement message ticker , at the lower right corner, confirming “Low-Cost Hajj Program”. Further detail leads me to the same hajj operator who was offering this program. Web site has all the details of this hajj operator. I called him and set an appointment at his office in Al Wizarat (Harra)  (GPS: 24°40'9.70"N  46°42'42.41"E).
     
    I asked several questions to hajj operator and asked him to show me the government licenses etc. It seems satisfactory , keeping in mind that I am paying JUST SAR 2500 in 2014 :) . I will definitely expect half of what he was assuring. If he will drive me to Makkah, Mina, provide me camp with bed space in Mina and Arafat with reasonable toilet then it will be win win situation for me for this cost. He charged 500 SAR extra (food + train tickets) and in SAR 3000 he promised to provide me following …
     
    1/ pick and drop via BUS from Riyadh to Makkah (Hajj Tamattu') / Mina and then back to  Makkah/Riyadh.
    2/ Camp+bed in Mina and Arafat with food.
    3/ Train tickets from Mina to Arafat to Muzdalfa and then back to MINA.
    4/ They will leave Riyadh on 6th Dhul Hijja and leave Makkah to Riyadh on 13th Dhul Hijja.
     
    Attached is the receipt with Hajj operator’s details.
    image
     
    There were too much rush last night when I did the booking.
    Better to be early bird if someone want to perform hajj via this “adventure” as seats are really limited !!.
    I will further update, inshallah … pray for me.

    Original Post on 4th August 2014
    Every year Ministry of Hajj offers discounted packages to some of the Hajj agents, you can find the complete list of agents and their contact information on this link:

    Ministry of Haj - eServices
    Clip Better http://eservices.haj.gov.sa/eservices3/haj/ho.xhtml
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    The list of agents who offered discounted packages last year can be found on this link: http://haj.gov.sa/SiteAssets/newspdf/en%D9%85%D8%AE%D9%8A%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA%20%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AE%D9%81%D8%B6%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A9.pdf

    Some more information about last year discounted packages can be found on this link: http://naumankhan.blogspot.com/2013/10/important-and-urgent-news-for-people.html

    Information about one of those Hajj agents is given below for the year 2014:

    image
    Riyadh Office Locations: 6500 Ash shaikh Abdul Rahman Ibn Hasan, Al Wizarat, (Harra), Riyadh
    Coordinates: 24.669233, 46.711708
    Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/SEnsK

    How to perform Hajj from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Step by Step Guide can be found on this link: http://naumankhan.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-to-perform-hajj-from-riyadh-saudi.html

    -urShadow

    References:
    http://www.expat-blog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=2132714
    http://www.expat-blog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=2127417
    http://www.expat-blog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=395428



















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