The first batch of 251 Haj pilgrims arrived safely at the Brunei International Airport at 6.50pm yesterday, where they were greeted by their family members and friends.
At the arrival hall, the pilgrims were welcomed by Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, Minister of Defence II Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof and Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar.
Also in attendance were Commissioner of Police Dato Paduka Seri Haji Mohammad Irwan bin Haji Hambali, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Brunei Darussalam Emad bin Abdul Aziz bin Sa’ad Al-Muhanna, permanent secretaries and Haj management officials.
The first Haj flight saw 103 pilgrims under Straits Central Agencies Sdn Bhd, 62 pilgrims under Raudah Al-Amin Sdn Bhd, 42 pilgrims under Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd and 41 pilgrims under At-Taqwa Travel Tours Sdn Bhd, along with three medical officers.
A Doa Selamat was recited by Mosque Affairs Officer Mudim Haji Amran bin Haji Md Salleh, to bless the pilgrims’ return.
One of the returning pilgrims, Zarina binti Dato Paduka Haji Abuzar, expressed her gratitude at being able to perform Haj this year with her family, describing as it a life-changing experience.
“The other pilgrims were very cooperative with the authorities, causing the Haj to run smoothly this year,” she told the Bulletin.
For Haji Awang bin Abdul Ghani, this was his second Haj trip, with the first one performed 19 years ago, in 2000.
“A lot of things have changed, in terms of accommodation, transport and the safety of pilgrims. But the feeling of seeing the Kaabah again was very overwhelming,” he said.
The second batch of pilgrims will arrive today at 10.25pm, while the third batch under Darussalam Holdings will arrive on August 21 at 1.25am.
The final batch of Haj pilgrims under Darussalam Holdings will arrive at 10.20am, on August 22.
The estimated time of arrival (ETA) is subject to change.