For young Saudis, Haj an opportunity to learn and earn
They make the most of the pilgrimage season and try to acquaint themselves with the cultures and traditions from where the pilgrims come from. They work for Tawafa organizations, the Makkah Metro, and as security guards at the hundreds of tents housing millions of pilgrims.
For Ahmed Kamel Shaban, a 21-year-old high school graduate, this was the first opportunity to work during Haj. A Jeddawi himself, he is working as a guide at one of the Makkah Metro train stations in Mina. “This experience is important to me as I grow up in life … I am learning the ropes of interacting with people of different nationalities … It is a lot of hard work and I deserve every single halala that I earn during these days,” he said.
Abdul Rahim Wajdi is just 15, he is working at one of the tents as an attendant. “This job will fetch me SR1,500 for five days. This will help my father in paying part of our house rent. I wanted to help him in any way I can and this is one small step in lessening his burden,” he said, getting a little emotional.
Abu Bakr Al-Humaidi is working as an assistant to one of the managers at a Tawafa organization. “Money is not important to me, experience is. Working during Haj offers its own set of problems. I have to take care of myself … this job has taught me how to organize myself,” said this 17-year-old Saudi. “I will go from here much wiser,” he added.
For 16-year-old Muhammad Fatah from Taif, neither money nor experience was the catalyst. “Last year, most of my friends came to Mina to work during Haj. I was left all alone. I felt very bored. What is life without friends? So I decided I too would go along with them and here I am making merry and also money. I will get SR1,000 for five days,” he said proudly. “Also, I made lots of friends from Makkah and Jeddah. This is great. We have formed our own little community of friends.” Fatah is homesick too. “I will buy gifts for my brothers and sisters. They are waiting for me and I am dying to see them,” he added. Abdul Majid Al-Sadik, 15, is from Abha.
This is his second year at Haj. “My mother asked me to work during Haj. She wants me to get experience in the art of serving pilgrims. This has given me immense experience and she was very happy when I told her about my work here in Mina,” he said. What will he do with the SR1,000 that he has been promised for work? “I will pay my phone bill,” came the reply.
Saad Al-Harbi, 21, is a university student. “I am doing a course in English language from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. This is my sixth year at Haj. I help the organizers in arranging accommodation facilities in Mina.” He is not too pleased with the money though. “SR1,500 is nothing considering the amount of effort that I put into this work … I am doing a course in English language because I realized after coming here that English holds the key to getting anywhere and in any country.”
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