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Image Credit: AFP

These past few days of celebrating Eid Al Adha are truly a blessing for family, friends and for all who live here in the UAE and across the wider region too. And Saudi Arabia deserves full credit and kudos for its skill and organisational abilities when it comes to laying the groundwork and preparations for, then catering to the millions who travel to Makkah to perform Haj.

Without doubt, the challenges of organising Haj are truly mind-boggling. The numbers alone are staggering, representing the full size of the logistical challenge for authorities and officials in the kingdom. Nearly 7,500 flights brought the faithful to the airports that service the holy city — a substantial challenge for airlines, airspace regulators and air traffic control operations. Some 18,000 buses help move the pilgrims — a massive fleet that requires nothing short of military precision to keep moving and circulating. And an estimated 2.5 million of the faithful united in solemnity and joy at completing their pilgrimage safely and securely.

Sadly, there have been times when the pilgrimage have been marred by tragedy, whether that be too many people moving to the same confined place, or by mishaps that threaten the safety of the faithful. Thanks to the superb preparations on the ground, careful oversight and safety measures, everything went smoothly as indeed it does most times.

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Over the years, and drawing from the experiences gained from each successful annual pilgrimage, Saudi officials review the preparations to enhance the organisational logistics and physical infrastructure to ensure the next one will be better.

This year’s pilgrimage went very smoothly indeed, reflecting the time, effort and improvements that have been put in place, and for that all involved in this year’s Haj deserve the full thanks and appreciation of the millions who safely attended its passing without incident.

Eid truly is a magical time, a celebration in appreciation of family and friends, a time of gifts and finery, celebrating and enjoying all that we have in common. For most, these have been days of leisure, time off from the demands of daily life and work routines. But not everyone has been able to take time off, their services are essential in keeping our nation safe, secure and running as smoothly as always to allow the rest of us to celebrate. These countless heroes too deserve our special thanks and acknowledgement for a job well done — and a job well done in Saudi Arabia too.