Wale Ojimokotan in Madinah, Saudi Arabia
The Nigerian military contingent for the 2019 Hajj exercise has arrived in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
The 348 soldiers landed at the Prince Mohammed Abdulaziz International Airport early yesterday morning. They departed Lagos last Wednesday evening aboard a Flynas Flight XY5133 that also had other 150 intending pilgrims from Ogun State onboard.
The soldiers’ arrival came at the time extremely hot temperature in Saudi Arabia has continued to force many pilgrims to limit their outdoor activities before the peak of the Hajj season, which is about six days from now.
The intending pilgrims from the armed forces are made up of 189 males and 159 females.
Their arrival in Saudi Arabia has now increased the number of Nigerian pilgrims airlifted for the annual Islamic religious rites to about 33,000 in 67 flights, according to the statistics released by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
The soldiers are accommodated at the Elyas residential and commercial centre.
The hotel is in the heart of the Makkazyya neighborhood dominated by a cluster of five-star hotels around the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque. Also, India, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Iran and Pakistan all camp their pilgrims in the same district.
Meanwhile, the heat in both Medina and Mecca has become intense that pilgrims have been following the Saudi Ministry of Health advice to drink more fluid and avoid direct contact with sun by making use of umbrellas.
For example, the temperature in Madinah yesterday stood at 44°C in the afternoon, while Mecca recorded 41 °C.
The average weather forecast in both cities, which host two of Islamic holiest sites over the next 10 days before the end of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, is put at 43 °C.