First flight of Malaysian Haj pilgrims departs for Mecca

Muslims pray at the Grand mosque ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, August 29, 2017. — Reuters pic
Muslims pray at the Grand mosque ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, August 29, 2017. — Reuters pic

SEPANG, July 4 — The first batch of 483 Haj pilgrims left for the Holy Land today on a Malaysia Airlines flight from the KL International Airport (KLIA) here at 5.30am.

Also, on flight MH8100 were 13 media personnel who will be covering the Haj pilgrimage.

A total of 30,200 Haj pilgrims will arrive from Malaysia on 62 flights this year with the last flight is expected to depart on August 4.

Head of Haj delegation Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said among the challenges that the pilgrims would face was the hot weather that could reach up to 50°C, especially during “wukuf”, the pinnacle of the Haj ritual.

Several changes have been made, including providing ready-to-eat food packages for the convenience of the pilgrims, he told reporters here.

Syed Saleh said it would ensure that only fresh food was being served to the pilgrims besides saving time and avoiding wastage.

“This kind of food needs to be heated only with hot water before it is served and this can certainly reduce wastage because it is cooked upon request or the number of pilgrims available during meal times.

“For this pilot project, we provide no more than three types of food such as nasi beriani and nasi lemak, and will be added if it gets satisfactory feedback from the pilgrims,” he said.

Meanwhile, two media personnel have expressed their gratitude for being chosen to perform the fifth pillar of Islam.

New Straits Times (NST) special writer Azura Abas said she looked forward to setting foot again in the Holy Land since her last visit in 2005 for “umrah” (minor pilgrimage).

For Harian Metro senior news editor (Current Affairs and Digital) Yusri Abdul Malek, he was grateful to be part of the Tabung Haji media team to the Holy Land this year. — Bernama