(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Dubai Airports will begin processing the transactions of the first batch of 35,000 to 40,000 pilgrims from the UAE and on transit through Terminals 1, 2 and 3, from today.
The 300-member Haj and Umrah team is fully geared up to ease and expedite the transactions of Haj pilgrims' travel to Jeddah or holy city of Madinah, as well as their return on the third day of Eid Al Adha.
Promising a more convenient pilgrimage season, Majid Al Joker, Deputy Chairman of the operation at Dubai Airports said some 12,000 pilgrims, Emiratis and residents across the UAE, will use Dubai Airports this Haj season.
"The Saudi Consulate has issued 1,550 Haj visas for residents in the UAE, including 156 administrative staffers at different Haj tour operators, companies and departments," he said.
Al Joker said the Emirates airlines, FlyDubai and Saudi Airlines are to start operations today. "The Saudi Airlines is to fly two to three daily flights from Terminal 1. However, additional flights are planned to Jeddah and Madinah."
"The Emirates airlines is to fly three daily flights from Terminal 3, two to Jeddah and one to Madinah. "Forty nine other additional flights will be operated - 26 to Jeddah and 23 to Madinah," he added.
Ibrahim Al Amiri, Head of the Haj and Umrah Committee - Dubai Airports, said a hotline available round the clock (04-2166688) has been specified to respond to inquiries about departing and arriving Haj trips.
"Pilgrims need to know about restricted stuff to avoid hassles and interruption. "All metal items must be removed when crossing the security gates, and pilgrims need to abide by the liquid amounts permitted - not more than 100mm in a sealed transparent bag.
" While 10 passports counters have been assigned for the Emirates airlines' pilgrims, eight others are to handle the Saudi Airlines' passengers. All counters will be open four hours before departures, and Haj tour operators need to be present with a list of pilgrims' names.
"Pilgrims need to hold their passports as ID cards are not allowed during the Haj season. They have also to ensure the validity of their passports," Al Amiri noted.
Dr Abdulaziz Al Zaroni, head of the Dubai Airport Medical Centre, said they would give a 10-minute briefing to develop pilgrims' medical awareness. "Not only will priority be given to pilgrims, but a doctor will be available to check on ill pilgrims on the spot when needed; the patient need not to go to the centre."
Meanwhile, the Dubai Ambulance Service establishment has assigned two vehicles at the departure and arrival points. "There will be a permanent ambulance team with male and female staff covering all the Dubai Airports.
Abdulla Ali, Manager Terminal Support Services Department, said they are ready for the Haj season with over 16 teams, and 300 staffers from different departments. "We will be there for the convenience of the pilgrims who will be received upon departure and arrival with perfumes, flowers, gifts, sweets, drinks, and special bags with all the items needed during Haj."
Dubai Taxi is geared up for the season with 350 cabs, along with 46 family vehicles and other taxis for the people with special needs. There will also be a special lane for taxis.
Mohammed Suhail, Head of the official Haj delegation of Dubai Government, said preachers of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai shall be present to answer pilgrims' queries in several languages.
Five tips to help pilgrims
Dubai International SOS, a medical and security services company, has some tips to help the estimated 2.8 million Muslims who are expected to arrive in the holy city of Makkah for Haj this year.
1)Update your vaccinations: It is mandatory of all pilgrims to have vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis at least 10 days before arrival. Also depending on what country pilgrims are travelling from it is mandatory to have up-to-date vaccines against yellow fever and polio. It is a good idea to make sure all routine vaccinations are up-to-date including measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria and pertussis.
2)Don't compromise on hygiene: By maintaining a high level of hygiene and washing hands frequently one mitigates the risk of contracting an infectious disease. It would be beneficial to consider wearing a mask when in crowded places.
3)Keep hydrated to avoid heat stroke: Minimise time spent in the sun especially from around 10am to 4pm. It is important to drink plenty of fluids, protect the face and eyes with a hat and sun glasses, and wear plenty of sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or greater.
4)Be flexible and patient: Pilgrims should make sure their itineraries are flexible and be prepared for major or prolonged travel disruptions.
5)Stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings: Pilgrims should be aware of their surroundings and belongings at all times. Travellers should bear in mind the possibility of stampedes in the vicinity of key religious sites and pilgrimage routes.