Entebbe — 400 pilgrims will set off the hajj to Mecca to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam on Sunday. Dr Abdallah Bin Fahad the Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Uganda on Friday said the second batch of Muslims will travel on August 20th after the first batch left. He said this during the flagging off 410 Muslim pilgrims on Thursday while addressing journalists at Entebbe International Airport during the sendoff of the pilgrims
"May Allah bless your Hajj," Dr Abdallah said as he made the remarks.
He also said that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has invited all Qatari residents wishing to make Hajj this year for free, and that all expenses would be catered for by him. Abdallah also said the king invited 30 Ugandans who will perform the hajj, as his personal guests.
He noted that over 300,000 security personnel had been deployed at the celebrations to avoid any incident such as what happened last year where over 700 pilgrims lost their lives in a stampede.
Dr Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu, Uganda's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, assured the pilgrims of their safety and urged them to carry out their pilgrimage in peace.
"Go to Mecca and perform Hajj in good spirit. Focus on the reasons you have gone to Mecca and show the good image of Uganda, pray for those you have left at home and the country to have peace," he urged them.
He noted that the numbers of pilgrims travelling for Hajj has gone down because of among other reasons the inability of Ugandans to raise funds for the pilgrimage. "We at one point had 1,500 people going but now the numbers have decreased."
Sheikh Ahmed Kayemba the vice chairman Federation of Uganda Hajj advised Ugandan Muslims to be aware of conmen who may try to swindle their money by promising them a trip for hajj.
"Please make better preparations ahead of the hajj pilgrimage. We have six registered offices responsible for registering pilgrims and pilgrims pay Shs16,204,615m ($4,500). Let no one deceive you that it costs Shs3m," he said.
Mr. Mohamed Abdalla Saali the imam at Ntarim Mosque Mutungo who led prayers before the pilgrims left, called on the government to help muslims make more hajj by decreasing the charges.