1,500-km desert trip on bus with no AC.(Photos supplied)
DUBAI A group of pilgrims from the UAE have complained that they were allegedly taken for a ride by a travel agent which shoved them onto a bus with no air-conditioning on a 1,600-km journey to Makkah, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. .
Shabby treatment received by about 50pilgrims at the hands of the Ajman-based tour operator have sent blood pressures close to boiling point as they embarked on a 36-hour drive across the Arabian peninsula.
"I'm angry at the way we're being treated C* at the way we're cheated, the inefficiency of the travel agent," said Imtiaz, an Indian executive from Sharjah, told XPRESS by phone from Sila'a, on the UAE-Saudi border.
The UAE's National Centre of Meteorology meteorology, branch of science that deals with the atmosphere of a planet, particularly that of the earth, the most important application of which is the analysis and prediction of weather. and Seismology seismology (sīzmŏl`əjē, sīs–), scientific study of earthquakes and related phenomena, including the propagation of waves and shocks on or within the earth by natural or artificially generated seismic signals. (NCMS NCMS National Center for Manufacturing Sciences
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NCMS North Canton Middle School (North Canton, OH) ) expected the hottest hours of August to hover around 46 degrees C. It has recorded the highest temperature since 2003 when the mercury touched the 52.1 C mark in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, where Sila'a is.
The group pushed off on Monday noon from the Sharjah's King Faisal Mosque and reached border at 6pm.
Since most of the travellers were also fasting, lack of air-conditioning made it worse as they crossed the Empty Quarter.
"We are not asking for a five-star treatment and only basic amenity like a working bus AC," said Najeeb, who works for an Ajman-based engineering company.
Some of the pilgrims said they booked their trip with Ajman Tours and Travels while others booked with Al Shamsi Tours and Travels, also based in Ajman.
Ahmad, 35, a pilgrim on the bus who runs a computer business in Sharjah, said: "It's been a horrible experience. We've called the operator plenty of times. But Shahzad, our tour guide, simple left us and jumped to another bus with a working AC."
Amir, a Dubai banker who embarked on a land-trip with several of his friends, said: "I don't want this to happen to anyone else. It's my second Umrah The Umrah or (Arabic: عمرة ) is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. to Makkah. The first time I took a plane. This time, I thought of going on a land-trip for a different experience. With no AC on my bus, it's really different."
Only the bus's AC fan worked when the bus left Sharjah, he said
"We repeatedly phoned the tour operator to do something about it, but Shahzad, a tour guide on board simply brushed us off," said Amir.
"The driver told us the AC will kick in once we're on the road. But it never did. We thought they will fix it along the way. But no action was taken."
At around noon on Tuesday, Shahzad returned XPRESS' call to say that the AC was fixed in a repair shop at the border.
"The problem is sorted ... there had been no complaints since this morning," Shahzad told phoned XPRESS at around 2pm on Tuesday.
But the passengers said this claim is untrue.
"I'm angry that even now C* we're close to the gate of Makkah and they are still lying," Imtiaz said.
He said that travel by night provided them with momentary relief. At 3.16pm on Tuesday, Imtiaz told XPRESS the bus has never made a stop anywhere after crossing the border and the agent is not picking up their calls.
Another pilgrim, Samir, 33, an Indian salesman, said: "I am really disappointed. It is the agents' responsibility for us to be able to reach Makkah with something as basic as a proper bus with a working AC. But the agent has just taken us for granted. Authorities should not allow this to happen again."
Previous pilgrims were also horrified hor·ri·fy
tr.v. hor·ri·fied, hor·ri·fy·ing, hor·ri·fies
1. To cause to feel horror. See Synonyms at dismay.
2. To cause unpleasant surprise to; shock. to know that bus companies taking pilgrim 36-hour journey to Saudi Arabia employ only one driver. "This puts passengers' lives at risk," said Shabir, who took the overland trip to Makkah from the UAE in 2008. Shabir added he was shocked seeing their bus veering from side to side as their lone driver struggled to avoid dozing off.
"From this time onward, I decided never to travel in these buses with one driver anymore," said Shabir. "Authorities must look into the possibility of using better buses for this 2.5-day journey, instead of very crammed seating arrangements unsuitable for such (long) drives."
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