HomeDocumentaryAnalysisHajj 2024: Feeding Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia

Hajj 2024: Feeding Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia

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By Mariam Zubair Abubakar

Feeding Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia is no easy feat. With thousands of pilgrims traveling to the holy city of Makkah each year for the Hajj, providing adequate and nutritious meals for everyone can be a daunting task.

The sheer number of people, coupled with the diverse dietary needs and preferences of the pilgrims, makes catering a logistical challenge.

Knowing how challenging it is, the Chairman CEO of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Jalal Ahmad Arabi prioritized the feeding services of the Nigerian Pilgrims while in the holy land. He worked with the teams to plan well and coordinate how Nigerian Pilgrims will be satisfied with the service that will be rendered to them and get value for money.

One of the criteria set by NAHCON for the caterers is ensuring that the food is not only sufficient but also meets the dietary requirements of the pilgrims. Many pilgrims have specific dietary restrictions or preferences, such as diabetic or vegetarian diets, which must be considered when planning meals, according to the Head of the feeding Committee Alhaji Kabiru Abdullahi and his secretary Alhaji Yusuf Kana.

Additionally, the Madinah Coordinator has been granting permission to journalists to tour the Madinah kitchens and see facts for themselves.

Thus, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the feeding Committee deployed to Saudi Arabia, work tirelessly to ensure that pilgrims are well-fed during their stay in Saudi Arabia.

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Meals are typically served in large communal dining halls, where pilgrims can gather to serve the meals and eat in comfort. These meals often consist of traditional Nigerian dishes, such as jollof rice, semovita, akara/Pap, and lots more, which help to provide a taste of home and comfort to the pilgrims.

Recently, the Chairman of NAHCON, made so much efforts to improve the quality and variety of food available to Nigerian pilgrims. Specialized catering companies such as Andalus kitchen, Africana Home restaurant, Amjad Al-Gharra Kitchen and zawar al- Mukhatara kitchens have been brought in to provide meals that are not only nutritious, but also delicious and culturally suitable. This has helped to alleviate some of the challenges associated with feeding such a large and diverse group of people.

Despite the difficulties involved, feeding Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia is a labor of love for those involved. The importance of providing nourishing meals to pilgrims as they embark on their spiritual journey cannot be understated. By ensuring that pilgrims are well-fed and cared for during their time in Saudi Arabia, the Nigerian government and various organizations are helping to make the Hajj a more meaningful and fulfilling experience for all.

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To further prove their commitment to the well-being of the pilgrims, NAHCON has been inviting the Nigerian journalists to visit the kitchens where the meals are prepared. The journalists were given a tour of the facilities and witnessed firsthand the meticulous care and attention to detail that went into each meal.

As the journalists sampled the food themselves, most could not hide their satisfaction with the quality and taste of the dishes. Proving certain claims made by their colleagues unfounded and based on misinformation.

Pilgrims that were interviewed testified positively and expressed satisfaction with the meals that are served to them. They continued their journey with renewed confidence in NAHCON. An official of the Kwara State Pilgrim Alhaji Usman Umar was surprised with such negative information being spread by some persons and therefore distanced themselves with such false news.

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Some reportage carried out in this Hajj period are reminders of the importance of responsible journalism and the need for thorough fact-checking before publishing any information.

As the pilgrims visibly enjoyed their meals, they were grateful for the efforts of NAHCON in providing for their needs. They know that they are in good hands and could trust the commission to fulfill their duties with integrity and excellence. And with that reassurance, they continued their pilgrimage with peace of mind and a sense of unity among their fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters.

Maryam writes from Madinah

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