Hajj 2022: Emirati father proud to finally follow in family's footsteps

Khaled Ibrahim will travel to Makkah on Saturday on his long-awaited spiritual journey

Emirati Khaled Ibrahim will take part in the annual pilgrimage for the first time. Photo: Khaled Ibrahim
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It has been a long road to Hajj for Khaled Ibrahim as he prepares to finally follow in his family's footsteps.

The Emirati father of three has shared the joy of his eight brothers and three sisters as they embarked on the spiritual journey in previous years.

Their experiences only fuelled his desire to complete one of the five pillars of Islam himself. Now, his own date with destiny is only days away.

Mr Ibrahim, 31, will join thousands of people travelling from the UAE to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, all of whom will be taking part in Hajj for the first time.

“Watching my parents and siblings all go to Hajj and celebrating their return was great,” he said.

“We would all visit them as soon as they returned and have a feast but I always longed to go myself and secretly envied them. [However], something always came up.

“I got married then we had children and there was the [coronavirus] pandemic. This year, it is finally my turn to go with my wife and, hopefully, in later years, it will be my children’s time to go.”

Pilgrims return in greater numbers

Saudi Arabia will this year permit a million pilgrims to perform Hajj after greatly reducing numbers over the past two years because of the pandemic.

Only 1,000 pilgrims from within the kingdom were allowed to participate in 2020. The number was raised to 60,000 last year, with participants chosen through a lottery for fully vaccinated citizens and residents.

The quota for this year's pilgrimage, which will take place over five days, is less than half of the 2.5 million people who performed Hajj in 2019.

With numbers still relatively limited, and against the backdrop of the pandemic, the UAE has set out a number of measures for those taking part.

Pilgrims must be under 65, must have never performed Hajj previously, must be fully vaccinated and should have received a booster shot to be able to travel to Saudi Arabia, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments said last month.

They must also present a negative PCR test result conducted within 72 hours of travelling to the kingdom.

Dr Nazura Siddiqi, an Abu Dhabi resident, will travel to Saudi Arabia from India with her son.

She is confident in the Covid-19 safety measures in place as people take the chance to travel to Makkah in larger numbers once more.

“We have a lot of faith and I have been trying for two years to go to Hajj,” said Dr Siddiqi, a specialist obstetrician gynaecologist.

“I do believe that if we were meant to get sick, then we will, regardless of where we are. But there will be many safety precautions in place that I am sure that we will be safe.”

Updated: July 06, 2022, 11:24 AM