Says: Our duty is to pamper the guests of Allah, make them comfortable
Leading indegenouse service provider in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Alhaji AbdulWaheed AbdurRaheem has given reasons why accomodation for state pilgrims within the precint of Masjid Haram in Makkah remains out of reach, adding that the cost may overshoot the cost of hajj of state pilgrims.
AbdurRaheem also known as Alarafa is the CEO, Kaothar AbdulSalam Company Ltd, a Saudi based company engage in providing feeding, accomodationand other logistics for pilgrims. In a chat with Vanguard, Alarafa stated that accomodation withing the precint of Haram are meant for executives who can afford to pay close to N5million for hajj and stay within the specified period of 15 days.
He added that as an expert in hospitality arrangments with experience spaning 15 years, he would always treat pilgrims like kings, pamper them and give them the best hospitality.Alarafa
“Next year, we hope to further in our hospitality arrangement for pilgrims. We want to pamper the guests of Allah, treat them like kings. With about 15 years of experience, we know what is good for our people. That is our intention, may Allah accept it from us.
According to him: “I want our pilgrims to be fed their indigenous food. If they don’t eat good food, it could expose them to risk of illness and with the stress of hajj, it may not be a pleasant story. This might lead to illness and death. But with good food and accommodation, other issues can be easily dealt with. That is my passion and that is what Kaothara AbdusSalam company is out to achieve,” he stated.
Alarafa who is married to a Saudi woman said his company provide accomodation for Lagos Ondo, Osun, Anambra, Enugu and FCT pilgrims, as well as pilgrims from some African countries and Europe and America.
“This year, for Lagos state alone, we provided four building to accomodate their pilgrims. In these buildings, we have fuctional internet facilities, spacious rooms, with everything the pilgrims need such as paste, toiletaries, kitchen utencils, with tea acessories in every room. The rooms were so cozy that not more than four in a room. The comfort of our pilgrims is our major concern when seeking accomodation for our pilgrims.
“However, we do not claim to know it all, but we always want to improve on our performance every year. Now, there are additional areas we think we have to improve on next year, these are the areas of transportation of pilgrims from their abode to haram on daily basis. We had about three-four buses conveying them to Haram but they were not enough. If there is any need for that next year, we will make them more comfortable, although we may get accomodation closer to haram than what we had in 2018.
“On getting accomodation close to Haram, I must tell you that the Governor of Lagos state, Mr.Akinwunmi Ambode and the Honourable Commisioner of Home Affairs, Dr, AbdulHakeem Abdullateef tried in ensuring that the pilgrims get the best, but I must tell you, the conditions attached to houses close to Haram and the attendant cost will make the cost of Hajj higher than what the pilgrims paid. Accomodation there is in phases of time; from Zhul Qada 1- 15th, another is 16th to 30th of Zhul Qada; 1st of Zhul Hajj to 15th; and 16th to 30th of Zhul Hajj. That is one of the conditions of the house close to Haram. But in taking other unforseen circumstances into consideration, we take other form of accomodation that is flexible and last up to Muharram. i.e (From 1st of Zhul Qada to Muharram.) So, in case of flight delay or other unforseen circumstances, the pilgrim will still be accomodated until the end of Muharram.
“That is one advantage over accomodation close to Haram not also mentioning the high cost it will bear on pilgrims. But what we do is to provide other services that will mitigate what you think you might be missing in house close to haram by providing buses to take pilgrims to haram any time of the day.
“In otherwords, accomodation beside harram are meant for businessmen and executives who only stay for any of the fiftteen days highlighted above. It can shoot up the hajj fare to about N5million per pilgrim. It is not meant for multitude of State pilgrims whose stay in the holy land is not specifically fixed because of the beauracracy involved in flight schedule, arrangments and airport or aviation contigencies. Even countries like Turkey, Indonasia among others were housed behind Lagos accomodation.
“This year, I provided accomodation for Ondo, Osun, Anambra, Enugu and FCT pilgrims. I also provided accomodation for pilgrims of some African countries like, Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. The list also included pilgrims from London, Paris and some states in the United States. So, we will always want the best for our pilgrims. Next year, insha Allah, we will introduced better strategies towards making all our pilgrims more comfortable.
Food service to pilgrims
“I started the idea of provision of indegenous food to our pilgrims. Some years back, I brought caterers from Nigeria and some food items which perfectly gave the pilgrims Nigerian delicacies. From 2014 to 2016 when I was fully in charge, there was no complain. But now, (2017 till date) a lot of people have moved into the business without character and quality. They are only after money, huge profit at the expense of the interest of the pilgrims, they indulge in sharp practices on the guests of Allah. This is not good.
“Next year, we hope to further in our hospitality arrangments. We want to pamper our pilgrims. We want to treat the guests of Allah like kings. With about fifteen years of experience, we know what is good for our people. That is our intention, may Allah accept it from us.
Reacting to a faulty elevator that killed a pilgrim from Niger State recently, Alarafa said: “For me as a service provider, I don’t accomodate pilgrims in old houses. I always go for new houses with new facilities. I also place some of my workers there to monitor activities of the pilgrims with the view to guiding them and ensuring their comfort. This is important because, sometimes, the pilgrims flock into the elevator without minding the its capacity. On our own, our workers are always there to guide the pilgrims on the use of the elevator and other facilities. Having said that, it is sad and very unfortunate that that incident which should have been avoided occured out of human error. We sympathise with the family of the deceased and the people of Niger state. We pray this never happened again.