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The first batch of 284 Malaysian pilgrims for the 1444 Hijrah Haj season arrived at their hotel in Saja Al Madinah here at 8.10 am local time Sunday (Malaysia is five hours ahead of Saudi Arabia).

All the pilgrims who departed at about 3am on Sunday from KL International Airport (KLIA), arrived at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport here at 7am local time.

The arrival of the group of pilgrims who boarded seven buses to the hotel was welcomed by the Malaysian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Datuk Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah, Tabung Haji (TH) Deputy Head of Haj Delegations (Welfare) Nurrinanuwar Shamsuddin, director of Madinah Operations Ashrof Shamsuddin as well as the management and staff of TH.

Wan Zaidi said the arrival process went smoothly with the pilgrims not having to wait long at the airport owing to the pilgrims' pre-departure programme or 'Makkah Route'.

"It makes it easier for Malaysian pilgrims who arrive in Madinah and Jeddah as passport matters are handled before coming here," he told reporters here.

According to him, Malaysia is one of the first countries to receive the facility because of its excellent Haj management record.

Overall, 102 flights carrying 31,600 pilgrims will depart KLIA in stages either to Madinah or Makkah, with the last flight of the Haj season this time leaving on June 21.

Apart from Saja Al Madinah, the arriving pilgrims will stay in Anwar Al Madinah Movenpick and Emaar Royal Hotel.

Each batch of pilgrims will stay for six days in this holy city before leaving for Makkah, about 450 kilometres from here.

During their stay in Madinah Al Munawwarah, various activities are organised including visiting the tomb of Prophet Muhammad, entering the Raudhah at Masjid Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) as well as visiting historical places here.

Two brothers, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Puncak Alam student Sarif Mohd Danial Sarif Rosli, 22, and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) leaver Sarif Mohd Nor Adam, 20, from Jitra, Kedah, are among the pilgrims who arrived here.

Sarif Mohd Danial expressed his gratitude for being chosen to be a duyufurrahman (guest of Allah)) at a young age and while still healthy and energetic.

Focusing on worship, the logistics student said he would also attend online study classes and do university assignments while in the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, Prisons Department retiree Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, 62, and his wife Jamilah Turiman, 56, are determined to do their best to obtain haji mabrur (a blessed Haj pilgrimage)..

Source: BERNAMA News Agency