Prospective hujjaj will be afforded the opportunity to gain more insight into this year’s haj pilgrimage, when the South African Hajj and Umrah Council’s (Sahuc) annual roadshow rolls into the city this coming weekend. The event seeks to cover the logistical aspects of the journey, as well as provide pilgrims the time and space to interact with accredited tour operators.
This year’s event will have specific focus on the application and accreditation processes for hujjaj, as well as logistics prior and upon entry into the Saudi Kingdom. Sahuc’s designated medical and hajj mission will also be in attendance to provide people with advice on how best to prepare for the journey from a health perspective.
“In addition to that, we cover a wide variety of matters ranging from contracting to (general) discussions, as well as a Q&A session from the floor. This is to ensure that people are adequately equipped to make the right decisions as and when they are accredited, in order to choose the right operator that will suit their needs,” explained Sahuc president, Shaheen Essop.
This year’s event is expected to be somewhat different; in the sense that operators will be unable to showcase any of the packages they are expected to offer. This is a result of an apparent shakeup within the South African ‘Muasasa’ in the Kingdom, which has led to a delay in the packages that will be on offer.
“With this means it that pilgrims will have to be a little bit more patient to receive those haj packages. There won’t be any packages displayed at out roadshow and that is a result of the reshuffle,” he stated.
Regardless of the delay, operators will still be able to indicate other details, including which hotels will be on offer and included in their packages. Whilst the event does seek to assist prospective hujjaj in making a decision on which operator to use, Essop said it was imperative they not put any money down until receiving official accreditation.
“It is unfortunate that one or two factors that we are waiting for are material to the costing of the package, but we certainly will still have operators there to have conversations with the hujjaj,” he noted.
On the part of the operators themselves, each will be required this year to have a minimum of 50 pilgrims on their books. This is based on regulations within the Saudi Kingdom, and Sahuc has scheduled a late April deadline by which operators must meet this requirement.
“If an operator doesn’t meet the minimum number, hujaaj must ensure that they ask these questions. They can come to Sahuc and ask us as well, and we will be forthcoming to notify them whether the operator has more than 50 (pilgrims),” he said.
The Sahuc roadshow will be held at the Athlone Civic Centre on Saturday the 14th, and will begin promptly at 9am. The planned programme will likely conclude at 12pm, at which time prospective hujjaj may browse and interact with the operators.
For more information contact Sahuc at 021 697 5503. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)