By Libertina Widyamurti Ambari

Mecca, Saudi Arabia, (ANTARA News) - The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has enthusiastically welcomed Indonesian pilgrims from the first flying group JKG who arrived in Madinah on July 17.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Agus Maftuh Abegebriel, said in a statement received by Antara here on Friday that the Royal Government was so enthusiastic in welcoming the guests of Allah from Indonesia that they held four welcome ceremonies.

The Indonesian pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia through Madinah`s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport.

"The first (welcome ceremony) was held when the pilgrims were entering the airport terminal, the second when they were in inside the airport terminal where each of them received souvenirs and flowers, the third when the pilgrims were exiting the airport terminal, and the fourth when they were on the buses, before they left for their hotels," the Ambassador said.

He explained that at the third welcome reception, the Indonesian pilgrims were greeted with a shalawat, a special salutation upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), by famous singer Maher Zain, as well as a traditional Islamic poem titled "thala`al badru `alaina."

The pilgrims were also welcomed with flower petals as they were passing through the "fast track" gates, where the immigration process is expedited, Agus Maftuh added.

Saudi officials were very enthusiastic in welcoming the Indonesian pilgrims from the time they entered the airport terminal until the time they boarded the buses that took them to their hotels.

Saudi Arabia`s Director General for Hajj, Muhammad Al-Baijawi, had a chance to deliver a speech in Arabic, which was translated by the Indonesian Ambassador.

The Head of Immigration in Madinah, Brigadier General Dr. Khalid Muhammad Al-Huwaisy, also delivered welcome greetings to the pilgrims, who felt very happy with the warm welcome provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Agus Maftuh expressed great appreciation for the festive reception given by the kingdom and emphasized that the shalawat and traditional Islamic poem which were played to the Indonesian pilgrims were very appropriate, as the poem talks about a longing for Madinah and an expression of love for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Agus Maftuh said the welcome events were something new and a first in the history of Saudi Arabia when welcoming pilgrims.

"This is a very positive breakthrough," he said.

This Hajj season, during the Islamic year 1439 Hijri (2018 in the Gregorian calendar), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is introducing the latest digital technology in providing services for pilgrims.

The innovation is known as "Al-Masar As-Sari" or "fast track," which is a process that facilitates the process of immigration checks for Indonesian pilgrims who arrive in Saudi Airports.



(T.KR-LWA/B/KR-BSR/A014) 20-07-2018 17:11:28

Reporter: Libertina W. Ambari
Editor: Suharto
Copyright © ANTARA 2018