A group of nine British pilgrims cycled 3,000 km on their way to Madinah in their six-week long journey from London. The group was accorded a warm welcome by Saudi authorities and cycling enthusiasts. Saudi Cyclist Association and Taibah Cyclist Association, under the patronage of Saudi Sports Authority, received the pilgrims at a traditional ceremony by beating drums and showering rose petals.
“Indeed it is an inspiration for the cyclists and a pleasant experiment to welcome British Haj pilgrims who arrived in the Prophet’s City,” Mohammed Al-Sarani of the Taibah association told Saudi Gazette.
The pilgrims were allowed to drive directly to the Prophet’s Mosque.
The group took off from London on July 14 passed through France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Egypt, Saudi Press Agency said.
The group had actually planned to come to the Kingdom via Turkey, Syria and Jordan but due to security reasons they traveled by ship from Greece to Egypt from where they traveled by air to Jeddah.
From Jeddah, the group traveled to Madinah on bicycles and their voyage was backed by traffic police and Saudi Red Crescent Authority services.
The head of the group, Abdul Wahid Don White, said the trip was aimed at conveying a picture of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance in the countries they passed through.
Before embarking on the trip, the riders from the UK-based charity Human Aid hoped to raise £1 million for medical aid in Syria.
The journey started in East London and the group first cycled to New Haven and took a ferry to Dieppe in France. From there, they biked to Paris and then travelled to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and entered Italy.
In Venice, the group caught a ferry to Igoumenitsa in Greece. They cycled through Greece and took a plane over the sea to Alexandria, Egypt. They cycled in Egypt and went to Hurghada from where they took a ferry to Yanbu in Saudi Arabia.
Abdul Wahid conceptualized the project when he converted to Islam 11 years ago.
“People say you have to change everything about you when you become Muslim. I had a lot of time to think about how I can merge my lives. I thought I love cycling and I want to go to Haj, so why don’t we go back to the old way of journeying?” Abdul Wahid was quoted by Al Arabiya English as saying at the start of the group’s journey.