The public speaks: London's Haj exhibit

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If you're planning a trip to the UK before April 15, be sure to visit the British Museum's exhibition 'Haj - Journey to the Heart of Islam'.

Three tourists shared their thoughts to our reporter Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane on the photographs, films and calligraphy on display.

22-year-old Pakistani student Asfia Malek and her friend Rehima Begom, a 23-year-old Bangladeshi student:

What brought you here today?

Asfia: Well being Muslim, we wanted to see this amazing exhibition and see how the Hajj was being portrayed. It's very interesting and there are lot of things I didn't know that I'm learning, which is nice. There tend to be some misconceptions about Islam and so it's just amazing seeing how diverse it is today with so many people here from different backgrounds.

I think what will stick in my mind after I leave will be the kiswah, the covering that's put over the Kaaba in Mecca. It was right at the beginning of the exhibition and so awe-inspiring that it brought tears to my eyes.

Rehima: I completely agree with Asfia's reasons for coming here today. It's really nice to see so many different cultures and ethnicities coming to see what Hajj is all about. I also want to go to Hajj one day - my parents have been - and this is the closest I can get to it right now.

Thirty-year-old Saudi national Moaaz M Hashem, the general manager of Qasswa, a Hajj tour operator.

Who do you think this exhibition is aimed at?

This exhibition is for Muslims and non-Muslims. I think it gives everyone an opportunity to see the Two Holy Mosques and how arrangements for Hajj are made, because non-Muslims cannot enter Mecca or have a chance to see what's taking place there. I hope visitors will be able to take away information about Hajj through the ages and understand the Muslim culture a little bit more. I don't think it should necessarily be a permanent exhibition in the British Museum but I do think it's important for Britain to hold an exhibition like this. There is some "Islama-phobia" around the world today but we in our country are calling for peace - and coming from the UAE you will know that.

Would this type of exhibition work well in the UAE?

Yes, absolutely and we would happily be part of it. We supply full Umra trips - visits to Mecca and Medina all year around for all Muslims around the world and numbers are increasing by approximately 20% each year.

We arrange accommodation, transportation internally in Saudi, visas and a guide - everything. Trips can range from two to twenty days or more and the cost varies but normally starts from a few hundred dollars. I have done Hajj many times and it's the most amazing trip I have ever taken in my life. Every year I go to Hajj, it is a new and wonderful experience.