Arrival and Departure
On arrival at the terminal the authorities will take your passport and give you or your tour operator a receipt. The Pilgrim Guides Establishment will hold your passport for you while you are performing Hajj and will return it on your departure. There are basic facilities at the airports in Jeddah and Madinah, and large numbers of pilgrims arriving and leaving can cause very long delays.
Your patience can be tested during this time, and you may not easily be able to get an official to answer your questions. However, you must remain calm at all times, and remember that your behaviour, and how you treat others, during this time and throughout your Hajj are all part of the test of your Hajj, so you must display the best Islamic conduct at all times and not do anything that may invalidate your Hajj.
The Saudi authorities have advised that upon landing, pilgrims must notify the authorities of the exact amount of funds they have, and only exchange currencies at certified places.
Efforts are constantly being made by the Authorities to improve travelling arrangements within Mecca for all pilgrims. The ‘Makkah Metro’ is currently being built and expanded. Your Tour Operator will have the latest information on this and will be able to give advice on methods of transport. Sometimes there is nothing better and nothing more convenient than walking! It is recommended to do a ‘walking Hajj’ where possible. This will of course depend on physical health and wellbeing and on the local arrangements your tour operator already has in place as part of your package.
Travel within Saudi Arabia for pilgrims will be limited to Mecca, Madinah and Jeddah. If you wish to travel elsewhere your travel agent will need to seek permission from the Pilgrim Guides Establishment giving at least 24 hours notice.
Your accommodation in Mecca will be based on what you have booked through your Tour Operator. If your accommodation is very different to what you expected or what you paid for you first need to make your complaint to your Tour Operator. If they are not willing or able to make any changes, you can complain to the Muttawiff and Hajj Minisitry, who in extreme cases may move you to somewhere more suitable, however this is unlikely due to the sheer volume of people during Hajj. You may have to take up matters with Trading Standards on your return. See Reporting Operators and Hajj Fraud on this website for more information
The accommodation in Mina consists of air-conditioned tents provided by the Hajj Ministry for use by European pilgrims. They are clean and regularly serviced. These tents are approximately 40 minutes walking distance from the area where you will be carrying out the symbolic throwing of stones after Muzdalifah.
Pilgrims will be accommodated in the European pilgrims’ zone. All tents are very basic. The quality of the facilities (e.g. food arrangements, air coolers, toilets) will depend on the package you have booked through your Tour Operator. You can ask for more details when deciding on which package to book.
Please note there are no tents in Muzdalifah as the Hajj authorities have not established any there and it is felt that this is more authentic to how the Prophet, peace be on him, spent time here. Tour operators usually provide roll-up mattresses and blankets and pilgrims literally sleep anywhere there is a space and ‘under the stars’. Your Tour Operator will have a place they recommend for their group to spend the night. People with specific health concerns should discuss options regarding staying in Muzdalifah with their Operator. Toilet facilities, for example, are very limited and have to be used by all the pilgrims on Hajj all staying in the area at the same time. Many teachers will say that allowances are there and pilgrims can leave Muzdalifah and go straight to Mina after midnight without sleeping the night there and then on to Mecca directly.
If you have included a visit to Madinah in your booking (which most people do, though it is preferable but not compulsory) then again the accommodation should be the precise hotel or the quality of hotel that you booked if you have used an authorised travel agent. You can complain to the Muttawiff and Hajj Minisitry, who in extreme cases may move you to somewhere more suitable, however this is unlikely due to the sheer volume of people during Hajj. You may have to take up matters with the agent and Trading Standards on your return.
Please refer to the sections on this website to help you plan your journey of a lifetime, outlining essential practical steps and advice.