Three Tajik cycling enthusiasts – Dilovar Ghafourov, 37, Saidali Nazarov, 31, and Abdushokir Talabov, 34 -- who were cycling to Mecca to perform the Hajj pilgrimage reached Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Jun 6 after cycling more than 3,000 kilometers in 33 days and they had to cycle 1,890 kilometers to reach Mecca.  Unfortunately, the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Dubai has denied them a visa. 

Known as the Hajj riders, the three cyclists came from Khatlon’s Kushoniyon district (Dilovar Ghafourov) and Dushanbe (Saidali Nazarov and Abdushokir Talabov) and trained for a year to complete the challenge.

Dilovar told Asia-Plus by phone on June 6 that they decided to cycle to Mecca, because under restrictions introduced by Tajik authorities, Tajik citizens under the age of 40 are no longer allowed to perform the Hajj.

According to him, they rode to Uzbekistan and from there they flew into Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan they drove through Iran and took ferry from Bandar Abbas to Sharjah (UAE).

Some of the obstacles faced by the Hajj riders reportedly included hot weather, sand and dust storms.     

Meanwhile, the Saudi Consulate in Dubai has denied them a visa   

Dilovar told Asia-Plus by phone Thursday (June 9) afternoon that representatives of the Saudi Consulate they told them to contact the Tajik authorities “so that they will apply for a visa.” 

“Of course, we understood that such problems could arise, but we decided on this difficult journey because of age restrictions introduced by the Tajik authorities for Hajj pilgrims,” Dilovar said.  

“We, however, hope that the relevant authorities of Tajikistan will try to understand us and help us apply for a visa online,” Dilovar added.   

Recall, the first group of Tajik Hajj pilgrims will be sent to Arabia Saudi on June 20.  Saudi Arabia has allotted a quota of 3,562 pilgrims to Tajikistan who will be able to perform the annual Hajj ritual this year.   The cost of the Hajj for Tajik Muslims had been raised from 3,750 U.S. dollars to 5,350 U.S. dollars.  This year, only citizens aged 40 to 65 are able to perform the Hajj this year. 

Each year, Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslims from abroad traveling on Umrah and Hajj.  Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca which adult Muslims must make at least one in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God.  The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.  Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.