The first batch of 601 prospective Muslim pilgrims from the three regions of the north were on Sunday airlifted directly from the Tamale International Airport (TIA) to Jedda, Saudi Arabia.
The pilgrims were flown in two batches by the Saudi Airline.
In all, about 2,167 pilgrims are expected to fly from Tamale to Saudi Arabia in seven batches from yesterday, August 5, to Wednesday, August 8, 2018, while 3,369 of the prospective pilgrims are to be flown from the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra to Jedda in 11 batches.
A total of 5,536 pilgrims are expected to be flown from Ghana to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage this year.
The Chairman of the National Hajj Board, Sheik I.C. Quaye, accompanied by the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Saeed; the Interior Minister, Mr Ambrose Dery, and other government officials, paid a visit to the prospective pilgrims at the TIA to bid them farewell.
Sheik Quaye admonished the would-be pilgrims to be disciplined and law-abiding during their stay in Saudi Arabia to enable them to undertake their spiritual duties successfully.
“The President is very concerned about the country’s image to the outside world and so he has asked me to advise you to be disciplined and law-abiding during your stay in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The chairman assured the pilgrims that “adequate measures have been put in place to ensure your safety and security, as 55 security men have been deployed to accompany you and ensure your safety”.
He said arrangements had also been made for the pilgrims to be served meals daily for all the days that they would stay in Madina, adding that standard hotels had also been secured for them in Mecca.
“The government has decided to feed the pilgrims during their stay free of charge. They will enjoy local dishes of their choice as well,” he added.
For his part, Mr Saeed advised the would-be pilgrims on what they were required to do to perfect their Hajj.
He also urged them to use the opportunity to pray for peace and stability in the country to promote development.
Some of the prospective pilgrims who spoke with the Daily Graphic expressed their satisfaction with the arrangements made by both the Hajj agents and the Hajj committee to ensure a successful pilgrimage.