Saudi Arabia: After 8-year separation, an invitation reunites dad and son
Hussain Mohammed (seated) and his son Ahmed. Image Credit: Okaz

Cairo: A Saudi government programme, hosting foreign Muslim personalities to perform Umrah, or the minor pilgrimage, has reunited a father and his son for the first time in around eight years.

Hussain Mohammed, a religious advisor to the president of Russia’s Ingushetia, was in a big surprise on Thursday when he arrived in the Saudi city of Medina only to find his son Ahmed among his recipients.

Mohammed is one of a 250-member group of Islamic personalities currently visiting Saudi Arabia on invitations from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Programme to perform Umrah.

'Climax of happiness'

“I haven’t met my father for eight years,” said Ahmed, a resident in Riyadh.

He was quoted by Okaz newspaper as saying that their previous meeting was in Riyadh years ago when his father was among an official delegation accompanying the president of Ingushetia during a visit to the kingdom.

For the father, the reunion with his son was the 'climax of happiness', noting that over the past years, their communication was limited to social media due to their work engagements.

Located in the North Caucasus of Eastern Europe, mostly Muslim Ingushetia is one of the republics that make up Russia.

Guests Programme

Earlier this year, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz agreed to host 1,000 Muslims from all countries of the world in 2024 to perform Umrah in separate groups.

The invitations are made under the programme overseen by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdul Latif Al Sheikh has said the 1,000 invitees are prominent Islamic figures from around the world including scholars, clerics, influential personalities and university professors.

They are hosted under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Programme to perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and offer prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina – both Islam’s holiest sites.