Al-Mash’ar group denies allegation it neglected pilgrims

In this photo taken with low shutter speed, Muslim pilgrims pray as others circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The local tour agency, Al-Mash'ar Hajj and Umrah has denied allegations it neglected some of the pilgrims who they took on Umrah pilgrimage this Ramadan.

The denial comes after a family from Addu lodged a complaint with the Islamic Ministry citing neglect. The family, a couple and their aunt, had gone to Umrah under Al-Mash’ar’s charge this Ramadan.

Some of the complaints they made include the long distance between their hotel in Mecca and Masjid al-Haram, issues with the accommodation, and neglect of a pilgrim on long-term medicine for a chronic illness.

Speaking to Sun, Al-Mash’ar’s managing director Ali Farish denied the family’s allegation.

Farish said the group had been briefing the pilgrims regarding the pilgrimage since January, including information about their hotel and travel plans.

“The information reported on the media isn’t the most accurate. For example, everyone in the group was aware when we arranged the hotel. Some were unhappy. We have some 200 pilgrims in our charge. We booked the hotel because 95 percent of them were fine with it,” he said.

Farish said they became aware of the pilgrim on long-term medication after they arrived in Mecca. He said that such information should have been disclosed beforehand as it would have made it easier to make necessary arrangements.

“You call them and ask them regarding the arrangements for Umrah pilgrims. We aren’t aware of any complaints other than from them,” he said.

Farish said that though their package was for 30 days, they had extended it by six more days free of charge. He said that the group hadn’t been neglectful in anything involving visa, departure or accommodation. He said the hotel the pilgrims stayed at was a good quality hotel.

He said that though the departure flight changed, pilgrims had been informed of the change beforehand.