Referring to Bangladesh's ongoing economic progress, the prime minister said "Please pray for the country so that we can move ahead in the development journey and every person can get foods, clothes, shelter, medicare and education, and thus an improved and decent life.”

She also asked the pilgrims to abide by the rules and laws of Saudi Arabia while performing their hajj rituals there. “It is the duty of all of us to uphold the country’s dignity. Keep it in mind,” she added.

The first hajj flight, carrying 419 pilgrims, from Bangladesh is scheduled to depart for Saudi Arabia on Sunday next. As the Coronavirus situation is a little better, this year, the holy Hajj is going to be held (on 8 July depending on the moon sighting) with one million pilgrims from all over the world. Of them, 57,585 hajj pilgrims will be from Bangladesh.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 127,198 pilgrims from Bangladesh performed hajj in 2019.

The head of government exchanged pleasantries with the pilgrims and requested them to offer prayers for the people of Bangladesh and her family members who were brutally killed in 1975.

With state minister for religious affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan, MP, in the chair, secretary of the ministry Kazi Enamul Hassan delivered welcome address.

State minister for civil aviation and tourism Md Mahbub Ali, Saudi ambassador to Bangladesh Issa bin Youssef Al-Dahilan and Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) president M Shahadat Hossain Taslim also spoke.

The prime minister said her government made the Hajj and Umrah Management Act-2021 for ensuring smooth performance of hajj by Bangladeshi devotees. “We’ve taken proper measures so that the hajj pilgrims can travel and perform the hajj without facing any harassment,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the measures were taken following her experiences as she found many irregularities in hajj management (for Bangladeshi pilgrims) since she first performed the Umrah in 1984, and the hajj in 1985 at the invitation of the king of Saudi Arabia.

She added, “So, we made efforts to improve the hajj management after coming to power in 1996 and we’ve been able to improve the management in phases.”

Noting that her government transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh, she said, “Today e-Hajj management was introduced and so, the pilgrims wouldn’t face the sufferings as they did in the past. We’ve been able to remove the sufferings.”

“It is our duty to ensure that the pilgrims can perform their hajj and offer their prayers smoothly,” she added.

"Through the Road to Mecca Initiative, we have been able to make our Hajj management more technology-based. The immigration (Saudi Arabia's) takes place in Dhaka so that there remains no issue of difficulties and harassment," she said, adding, "The Saudi government has taken steps to ensure that the luggage reaches its destination (pilgrim's place of residence). Dedicated air service is being provided."

The prime minister thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques-King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud for giving the scope for the hajj pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia as they didn’t get the scope for last two years due to the of Covid-19 pandemic.

She also asked the hajj pilgrims to offer prayers so that the world and the mankind remain protected from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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