- 40 females among teams of experts helping pilgrims from South Asian country
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sent more than 40 women to work as part of its Hajj mission in Saudi Arabia, many of them in leadership roles, a Religious Affairs Ministry official said on Saturday.
Saudi authorities have reinstated Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota, allowing 179,210 people to participate in this year’s pilgrimage, and removed the upper age limit of 65. About 80,000 of the pilgrims will perform Hajj under a government scheme, with the rest using private tours.
Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Ministry said that more than 50,000 Pakistanis had arrived in the Kingdom since the government launched special flights on May 21.
“Currently, over 40 women are working shoulder to shoulder with men in the Hajj mission in Makkah and Madinah, and approximately 15 more are expected to arrive in the coming days,” Mohammed Umer Butt, a ministry spokesperson, told Arab News.
“These women are serving in various sections and some of them are even leading different departments,” he said, adding that some female doctors and paramedics were contributing to Pakistan’s Hajj medical mission.
Nadia Razzaq, the head of information technology in Makkah, said women were playing crucial roles within the Hajj mission.
“More than 40 women have already arrived in Saudi Arabia to fulfill various responsibilities across different sectors, such as food, accommodation and transportation,” she told Arab News.
“Women are making valuable contributions to every sector of the Hajj operations.”
Ayesha Ijaz, who is responsible for monitoring the Hajj mission in Makkah, said her role involved overseeing the arrangements made by private tour operators for pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia.
“This includes addressing their issues and ensuring the provision of the facilities promised to them in Makkah, Madinah and other locations during the Hajj,” she said.
“Women staff also hold crucial positions in the Hajj mission, which greatly contributes to our smooth operations.”
Beenish Ashraf, who heads up the call center at Makkah’s main control office, said her department helped to resolve pilgrims’ complaints.
“We have employed call agents who handle pilgrims’ calls round the clock,” she said.
“As soon as we receive these calls, we enter the details into our system, notify the respective sector commander and contact the relevant department to expedite the resolution.”