Qatari pilgrims call for action against abusive Haj operators

November 23, 2010

Pilgrims from Qatar, who were stranded during the Haj pilgrimage, have urged authorities to take action against abusive Haj tour operators.

According to the Qatari media, more than 250 pilgrims were stranded at the Jeddah International Airport after their flight was delayed for over 14 hours.

Some of them have blamed the Qatari operators and urged the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs to launch an investigation into the incident.

The call for official action was backed by claims that some pilgrims suffered discrimination, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported.

“We were discriminated [against] throughout the pilgrimage. If you are a businessman, they treat you well,” one pilgrim told the paper.

Others said that they’d been told by a tour operator to report to Jeddah International Airport, at Friday noon for departure at 2pm.

“We performed the farewell tawaf (the concluding ritual of the pilgrimage) on Friday morning, packed our baggage and left Makkah for Jeddah,” a pilgrim was quoted by Al Sharq newspaper as saying. “We reported at the airport two hours before the departure time. However, we were told that the departure has been rescheduled for 5pm.”

Some of the pilgrims tried to contact company officials responsible for organising the trip, but their mobiles were switched off. “We then tried to contact our embassy to see if any assistance could be provided to the women and the elderly in the group, but none was available,” explained the pilgrim adding that the long wait, combined with low air temperatures caused health problems for some.

They were made to wait 14 hours before they finally boarded the aircraft. However, some needed urgent medical treatment at the airport, causing a further delay of about an hour, even after the flight was ready for departure.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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