2 wheelchair-bound Indian women complete Dubai run

News Network
November 9,2019

Dubai, Nov 9: Two elderly Indian women have successfully completed a 5-km run on wheelchairs in the UAE, media reports said on Saturday.

Kusum Bhargava, 86, and Eiswari Amma, 78, participated in the Dubai run on Friday, Khaleej Times reported.

Bhargava, probably the oldest participant in the 5-km run, said that it was a great experience.

"I met so many people who came and took photos with me. I completed the 5-km distance and all the credit goes to my daughter-in-law," she said.

Sharjah resident Ama, who was one of the oldest contestants, participated in the run with her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Her family pushed her on a wheelchair from start to finish.

"My son would always take us to Dubai and show us the Sheikh Zayed Road lined with beautiful buildings. Today, when we were actually on the road on foot, it was truly amazing.

"I couldn't help but marvel the architecture of the amazing buildings, especially the upcoming Museum of the Future. This is an amazing initiative where not only we get to enjoy fitness activities with our families, but we also got to see so many people of different nationalities. I have never experienced such a multi-cultural gathering before. It was absolutely wonderful," Amma said.

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Children under 12 unable to fly back alone to UAE from India

Agencies
July 14,2020

Dubai, Jul 14: The UAE-based parents of children under 12 stranded in India are in a tight spot with multiple airlines refusing to accept unaccompanied minors.

Starting July 12, Indians wanting to return to the UAE have been given a 15-day window to travel back on the condition that they have valid residency permits. They also have to produce a negative Covid-19 test result.

But parents of minors said they are feeling helpless as children are unable to avail of the travel opportunity despite having return permits.

"It has been more than three months since my daughter has been stuck in India. We have GDRFA approval for her but the airlines are not accepting her booking, saying she is under 12," Poonam Sapre, a Dubai-based mother, told Khaleej Times.

Her daughter Eva Sapre, 10, is in Hyderabad and is awaiting a reunion with her parents.

"She is just 10 and it has already taken an emotional toll on her. She is eager to come back and is asking me every day about her return. This is so frustrating."

Barring Emirates and Etihad, other airlines including flydubai, Air Arabia and Air India Express are not accepting unaccompanied minors. With India extending the travel freeze till July 31, normal flights are yet to resume and only special flights are allowed between India and UAE under a bilateral agreement.

Sapre said only flydubai is flying the Hyderabad-Dubai route, and the carrier has restrictions on minors travelling alone. "My daughter is too young to fly through indirect routes," claims the mother.

When Khaleej Times reached out to the airlines for comment, they confirmed that such rules on unaccompanied minors were already in place even before Covid-19 travel restrictions came into effect.

Another Dubai-based distressed parent, who did not want to be named, said her eight-year-old son is in Kerala and is unable to fly due to airline policies on unaccompanied minors.

"I called up Air India Express and they said this has been their rule even before the Covid-19 outbreak. I am appealing to them to re-consider and make an exception during these trying times so that our children can come home safely," she said.

Faced with this eventuality, some parents are forced to fly out of the UAE so they can accompany their children on the flight back home.

An Indian mother, who is currently in Mumbai, said she flew out of Dubai on Monday morning solely for the purpose of bringing back her twin daughters, aged 10.

"I had no choice. Ideally, they could have travelled together, but under these circumstances I thought it best to get them with me personally," said the mother.

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Makkah welcomes domestic Hajj pilgrims amidst pandemic

Agencies
July 26,2020

Jeddah, Jul 26: The city of Makkah is opening its arms again to welcome pilgrims for the annual Hajj — although only a handful compared with previous years.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event is limited to about 1,000 pilgrims, all from inside Saudi Arabia, about 700 of whom are expatriates.

Abdullah Al-Kathiri, an Emirati and a recovered COVID-19 patient, postponed his pilgrimage last year because it coincided with his wedding plans. “I’ve heard from many who’ve performed the pilgrimage in past years that it was always a smooth process, even with the massive numbers,” he said. “So you could imagine how it would be with the limited number of pilgrims this year. Surely it will be a great experience.”

Khadija, a Bulgarian expatriate, was overcome with tears when she heard she would be performing Hajj this year. “I didn’t expect they’d accept,” she said. “I’m sure this year’s Hajj will be an exceptional one in all respects.”

Dr. Haifa Yousef Hamdoon, a Tunisian physician in Qassim, is another who did not expect to be accepted because of the low numbers this year. “When I received confirmation of my request, I was overjoyed and couldn’t believe it,” she said.

Mu’taz Mohamed, a Sudanese pilgrim who also lives in Qassim region, praised the preventive and precautionary health measures taken in order to ensure his safety and that of other pilgrims, to enable them to perform the rituals safely.

After completing their arrival procedures, the pilgrims were taken to their accommodation in Makkah, supervised by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. They will stay there for four days before beginning their pilgrimage on July 30.

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Hajj pilgrims stay overnight in Muzdalifah

Agencies
July 31,2020

Jeddah, Jul 31: Hajj 2020 pilgrims arrived in Muzdalifah Thursday night to rest after spending the day in Arafat.

Earlier, the pilgrims scaled Mount Arafat to pray and repent, as a highly unusual Hajj approached its climax. They listened to a sermon delivered by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manea and prayed Dhuhr and Asr prayers together at the Al-Namirah Mosque in Arafat.

This year’s pilgrimage is the smallest in modern times, after the number of participants was greatly restricted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Tight security was in place around the foot of the rocky hill outside Makkah, also known as Jabal Al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, in preparation for the high point of the annual ritual.

Video footage shown on state television showed the pilgrims setting off on their climb to the summit. They wore face masks and observed strict social-distancing rules imposed by Saudi authorities.As sprinklers sprayed water on them to provide relief from the summer desert heat, the pilgrims raised their palms as they climbed the slopes of the hill — the site of Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon. When they reached the top they recited holy verses and prayed for forgiveness for their sins.

Earlier, the pilgrims were taken in buses from Mina to Mount Arafat. Strict precautionary measures were in place, with each group accompanied by security teams, ambulances and civil defense vehicles. 

When they arrived, their temperatures were checked before they entered Namirah Mosque to hear a sermon that was translated into 10 languages.

“The camps were set up for pilgrims in Arafat early on,” said Minister of Hajj and Umrah Muhammad Salih Bentin. The sermon at Namirah Mosque was delivered by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manea, who led the pilgrims in noon and afternoon prayers.

“During Hajj this year, we reiterate that it is essential for pilgrims, as well as everyone assisting them, to adhere to the precautionary regulations that have been implemented,” Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said during his sermon. “This is to be done for their own safety.

“Precautions have been put in place to protect lives against the damage that the pandemic can cause, and also to actualize Islam’s teachings pertaining to safeguarding human life by Allah’s permission.”

The stay in Arafat is described as the pinnacle of Hajj and Muslims around the world reflect the actions of pilgrims by asking for forgiveness and praying for their deepest desires.
Pilgrims left Arafat in coaches for Muzdalifah after sunset and will pray the Maghrib and Isha prayers there.

After sunset prayers, the pilgrims made their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, where they will spend the night before the final Hajj ritual, the symbolic stoning of the devil. 

This year, each pilgrim received sanitized pebbles in advance of the event on Friday, which is the first day of Eid Al-Adha.
This year the Kingdom faced the unprecedented challenge of ensuring pilgrims attending Hajj were protected as much as possible from the risks of the coronavirus.

They will then sleep, pray the Fajr prayer there tomorrow and then leave for Mina.

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