ABU DHABI // More than 12,000 pilgrims have crossed the Al Ghuwaifat border between the UAE and Saudi Arabia on their way to perform Haj, Abu Dhabi Police said yesterday. Major Salem al Amiri, the head of police security at the crossing, said officers had co-operated with government agencies, translators, volunteers and students to ensure the safe passage of the 12,461 pilgrims. The border, lined by police and ambulance crews who helped to ease the process, is the main passageway for all pilgrims travelling from the UAE and Oman to the holy city of Mecca.
Thousands of boxes of water and fruit juice were given to travellers as they made their way to Saudi Arabia for the Eid al Adha ritual. Medical tents, staffed by members of the Red Crescent and the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, were available to aid the sick. The journey from the border to Mecca, which takes about 24 hours, covers miles of treacherous roads, many unlit and unmarked, with just one lane in either direction. Traffic patrols were intensified to aid travellers. It takes pilgrims three stages to reach the holy city, travelling first to the east coast, then to Riyadh and on to Jeddah.