Pilgrims were offered dates and prayer mats by the Saudi authorities.

ISLAMABAD (APP):With the onset of Hajj season, the pilgrims have started reaching Saudi Arabia from across the world with the first flights arriving from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Malaysia on Saturday.

The pilgrims are arriving at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport of Madinah where the airlines from public and private sectors had finalized their operations to carry the pilgrims from across the world.

The first flight PK-7001 carrying 171 Pakistani pilgrims from Karachi landed in Madinah on Saturday morning, Arab News reported.

The second flight PK- 741 with 186 Pakistani pilgrims reached the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah from Islamabad. The pilgrims were welcomed by the officers of the Pakistani consulate. Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj Abdullah Al-Fataah and other Saudi officials were also present.

According to Hajj policy 2018, a total of 107,000 Pakistanis would perform Hajj under the government Hajj scheme and 77,210 pilgrims under private Hajj schemes. More Hajj flights are also scheduled from other cities of the country including Peshawar, Multan, Sukkur, Lahore and Faisalabad.

“We have made excellent accommodation, food and transportation arrangements for all the pilgrims with the cooperation of the Saudi government,” Imran Siddiqui, spokesperson for the Pakistani Ministry of Religious Affairs, told Arab News.

He said the flight operations will continue till August 15 and Saudi Embassy in Islamabad remained open, even on weekends, to process visas and other official requirements for people intending to perform their Hajj.

The Jeddah airport also received the first flight carrying 419 pilgrims from Bangladesh.

Pilgrims were offered dates and prayer mats by the Saudi authorities.

The passengers were received by Vice President of the General Authority for Civil Aviation Sulaiman bin Hamad Al-Bassam, Director General of King Abdul Aziz International Airport Essam Fouad, and a number of government and airport officials.

The Madinah airport also received the first flight carrying pilgrims from Malaysia.

The first Hajj flight from Kabul also arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, carrying 345 Afghan pilgrims.

Hajj flights have started from Kabul and Herat but others will soon leave from Kandahar and Balkh airports, confirmed Faiz Mohammad Osmani, Minister for Hajj and Religious Endowments.

Around 30,000 Afghans will perform Hajj this year, out of which the government will sponsor 500, mainly the family members of those who fell victim to the country’s ongoing war.