Friday, July 18, 2008

Back In The Kingdom

I am back in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia again after 8 years. First time, it was for work and I spent around four months here. This time it is a personal visit with my wife and I am expecting to spend more than a week to see some of the important places in Saudi.

We landed here at Jeddah on 17th July, 2008 night by an Air India flight from Calicut. We were on Umrah visa which allows us to visit only the holy cities Makkah and Madinah besides Jeddah. The visa is valid for 30 days.

We came through a travel agent and the cost per person for visa and return ticket was INR 35000. When we landed here, the officials at airport collected our passports and handed over them to the agent’s representative. The agent took us from Jeddah to Makkah in their bus and dropped us at the hotel where we had booked our rooms, and also handed over the passports to the hotel manager. As the cases of absconding Umrah visa persons for doing work here are increasing, the officials are more vigilant now and will held the hotels responsible for any such events. My younger brother who is working here received us at the hotel. The hotel guy is a friend of him and finally we had our passports back.

The night was spent performing Umrah in the holy mosque known as Haram built around Ka’aba. The temperature here at night was 37 degree Celsius but still there was no break in the rushing crowd who came here from all over the world to do their religious duties.

It was early in the next day morning when we were back in the room after performing the Umrah.

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