UK Parliament Haj debrief a great success
The Council of British Hajis hosted a historic Haj debrief meeting in the UK Parliament bringing together pilgrims, British Haj & Umrah tour operators, academics, MP’s and Peers from both Houses of Parliament.
The purpose of the meeting was to bring all stakeholders onto a single platform and discuss the recent Haj season with a view to put plans in place for Haj 2016.
Rashid Mogradia, chief executive of the Council of British Hajis hosting the event, said: “The Council will continue to work tirelessly again this season to ensure contingencies are in place for British pilgrims by lobbying our government to support British nationals during Haj as in previous years and just as other nationalities do the same for their citizens.
“Whilst the Saudi authorities are doing an excellent job, we must ensure British pilgrims and tour operators alike play their part and be aware of their own responsibilities, this is why the Council of British Hajis will focus further in educating pilgrims prior to departure.
“We would like to thank Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf, the Consul Bandar Al Zaid at the Saudi Embassy in London for services offered to the thousands of British pilgrims. We have witnessed first hand the dedication and services provided to pilgrims and these have improved year on year and we look forward to seeing further improvements namely the grand expansion of Masjid Al Haram in Makkah and Masjid Nabawi in Madinah all of which looks to increase pilgrim numbers.”
The meeting was partnered by the Islamic Cultural Center London (ICC). In attendance was Bandar Al Zaid.
He said that the consulate team were there to serve the guests of Allah and that the team regularly worked long hours to ensure pilgrim visas were processed in time.
Dr. Ahmed Al Dubayan, director general of the Islamic Cultural Center London (ICC) said that Haj was one of the five pillars of Islam, and one that every stakeholder should work towards serving the guests of Almighty Allah.
The ICC had a long standing role in serving pilgrims and advising them of pre-Haj rites and to address issues of fraud within the community which was un-Islamic.
He called on the industry to deliver their promises for a pleasant Haj experience.
Commander Chris Greany from the City of London Police reaffirmed his forces commitment in tackling Haj fraud. Whilst the numbers of Haj fraud reports had dropped, this was still due to under reporting and called on the community to report fraudulent activity.
Lord Adam Patel congratulated the Council for a successful event and was ready to support initiatives designed to bring positive changes in the Haj & Umrah sector.
Yasmin Qureshi, MP, who sponsored the event praised the hard work of CBH in serving pilgrims and thanked the Saudi Embassy for their hard work in swiftly processing pilgrim visas especially during the tragic incidents, which took place at Haj this year.
She said: “When approximately 25,000 Britons travel to Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrimage each year it is crucial for policymakers and parliamentarians to discuss the safety challenges posed to pilgrims.
The tragedy in Mina reminds us of the importance of working closely with Saudi Arabian authorities to ensure the greatest care is taken in planning and improving safety precautions.”
The Council launched its own review at the event in Parliament in Haj Organizing from the UK and will be consulting with key stakeholders in preparations for Haj 2016.
A historic Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Council of British Hajis and the Islamic Cultural Centre for greater coordination of Information during Haj.
Parliamentary attendees included Lord Adam Patel, Baroness Uddin, Yasmin Qureshi, Shabana Mahmood, MP, amongst others.