By Umamah Bakharia
Less than 2 days before the start of Hajj, anticipation is high in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With this year being the first Hajj for foreigners since the lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kingdom has been welcoming pilgrims since early June.
Chatting to Radio Islam on her experience as a South African employed in Saudi for the past two years as a clinical nursing education coordinator, Sister Shahista Nabi, says there have been a lot of benefits to living in a country where there is rich Islamic history.
“Theres a peacefulness that you find here,” she says. Adding on, she notes that there is a big difference between living in SA and in Saudi, the main reason being an Islamic country. “You don’t have to worry of halal and haram and our safety being women here,” says sister Shahista.
Speaking on Saudi’s new train network that travels between Makkah and Jeddah, she says feels like a mini airport as it is very easy to access and spacious enough. “You just have to stay on your barcode, there are no controls if i could say besides the checking of the luggage, its an easy process for anyone is used,” says sister Shahista.
Because she is a resident of Saudi Arabia and possesses a working permit, she says they have not been differentiated from the Saudi residents in trying to get Hajj accreditation. “We fall under their quota, we all have a Saudi Hajj portal that we apply to so whether you are South African or Malaysian or American, you fall under the Saudi quota which I think is very good as everybody gets a chance to perform Hajj,” she says.
According to sister Shahista, the criteria to perform Hajj within the Kingdom is that you have to be living in Saudi for at least a year. This year vaccinations against Covid-19, meningitis and flu were required.
However, she is excited to perform her first Hajj even though she has been to Makkah many times. “I am looking forward to that because its a first experience for me, I have travelled passed Arafah, Mina and Muzdalifa, I always used to pray for the past one year and say to my family this year I am definitely coming,” she shares in the excitement.
As a resident of Saudi performing Hajj, she is still required to make use of an agent.