The ongoing Gulf crisis has made it difficult for thousands of Qatari nationals to perform Haj this year, prominent journalist Ashraf Siddiqui said.
He was a guest on the live radio show Haqeeqat that airs on Qatar Urdu Radio.
“First, the quota of the number of people who can travel from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj was restricted. Secondly, Haj pilgrims cannot even travel directly from Doha to Jeddah anymore. They now have to take routes from Oman or Kuwait, which makes their journey far longer,” Siddiqui said.
Haqeeqat aims to engage and interact with the large South Asian expatriate community in Qatar and Tuesday’s programme shed light on the hurdles created by the Saudi-led blockade on pilgrims from Qatar.
Local companies that organize Haj trips for residents have also been encountering other limitations such as booking hotels and securing accommodation in Saudi Arabia.
Pilgrims from Qatar usually sign up for facilities such as accommodation, food and transport in Saudi Arabia for the duration of their pilgrimage through local companies.
“I’ve spoken to many local companies and people and truth of the matter is that registering for hotels and transportation within Saudi Arabia is a major issue for Qatari Haj pilgrims right now,” Siddiqui said.
“In fact, many Qataris don’t even feel safe while travelling to Saudi Arabia anymore because of media reports about how their citizens are being treated in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
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The programme is a joint venture of the Gulf Times and Qatar Media Corporation Urdu Radio, and it will be broadcast from Sunday to Thursday on FM107.