Performing Hajj is obligatory for all Muslims at least once in their lifetimes for those who have the means to do it. Umrah is not mandatory but is regarded with reverence, and millions perform it throughout the year, except during Hajj.
Every Muslim has this burning desire to visit the sacred places in Makkah and Medina. He goes to great lengths to make it a reality. Visiting the holy places is a great blessing, and Muslims term the pilgrimage to these sites as a reward from Allah.
Once upon a time, overland caravans were the only mode of travel for performing Hajj or Umrah. It used to take months, and sometimes even a year, to reach the Holy Lands. The journey itself was replete with dangers of all sorts.
Many intending pilgrims used to die before they could even reach Makkah. Thankfully, those days are behind us, and now millions of pilgrims worldwide perform Hajj or Umrah. Modern means of communication have made travel so much easier and safer.
The transition began with the introduction of steamships. That reduced the travelling times a lot.
Later, international developments, engineering and economics had an impact on Hajj and Umrah travel patterns. These included the introduction by Egypt of the first airline service for Hajj pilgrims in 1937. Continuous improvements in global travel networks, including new generation-wide body jets, led to a gradual rise in pilgrim numbers and a further reduction in travel times.
Today, aeroplanes are the dominant mode of travelling to Saudi Arabia, replacing overland caravans and steamships. King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah have dedicated state-of-the-art pilgrim terminals that are fully equipped to handle the pilgrims’ rush.
One must give credit where it is due. The Saudi government has invested vast amounts of money in transport-related infrastructure. The airports are comparable to any modern airport in terms of amenities.
The road network is also top-class. Saudi Arabia is a large country, and the government has invested in roads to connect the farthest points of the kingdom with the rest of the country. Moreover, in the absence of a train network, travelling by road is the only overland transportation option.
There are 24 international commercial airports within the UK, not to mention several private and domestic airstrips. Flying from one end of the country to the other often takes hours, the small size of the notwithstanding. Because of this, many UK residents prefer to fly domestically using smaller airports.
Heathrow Airport is currently the busiest airport in the UK and one of the world’s busiest. It has connections to many countries around the world. Many airlines use it as a transit point before heading to their destination.
The King Abdul Aziz International airport in Jeddah has three terminals; one for foreign airlines, one for Saudi Airlines and one is Madina-tul-hujjaj, also known as the Hajj terminal. It is in operation during Hajj season and Umrah.
If you fly into Jeddah by any airline besides Saudi Airlines, you will land at the Hajj terminal if you intend to fly to Madinah; however, your itinerary demands that you fly with a domestic carrier which flies out of the Saudi Airlines terminal only.
If you’re travelling from outside Saudi Arabia and going to Makkah or Madinah by road, you will take one of our private transportation providers. For your public transport options, see below:
It doesn’t matter what airline you board during Hajj season. Pilgrims are sent to the Hajj terminal at King Abdulaziz Airport and then fly or go by road to the Mecca-Madinah metro area. The Saudi government established a public transportation system in 1952 entrusted with special responsibility for Hajj transportation for those travelling in buses.
These buses are responsible for transporting people on Hajj and Umrah trips to holy places. Companies in the Transporters Syndicate work together, so pilgrims have comfortable transportation from airports to sacred sites and hotels in Makkah and Madinah.
Members of the Syndicate include more than 20 transport companies (including Qawafel, Rwahell, Rabitet Makkah) with cooperation from competent government agencies.