Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — Saudi customs officers find various types of prohibited items including drugs and publications in the bags of pilgrims on arrival at the Kingdom’s airports, seaports and other entry points, said Mohammed Al-Qahtani, supervisor of customs at Haj and Umrah Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
“Our officers have seized various types of drugs including heroin, tramadol tablets and amphetamine pills from pilgrims coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria. Some African pilgrims bring Goro fruit, which is prohibited,” he said while speaking to Makkah Arabic daily.
Al-Qahtani said the Iranians were bringing prohibited books and other publications including those abusing the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his wives or publications containing wrong interpretations of the Holy Qur’an,” he explained.
Speaking about pilgrims coming from Indonesia and Malaysia, he said they usually bring herbal medicine, tablets and sex medications. They also bring some materials used for black magic. “Our officers prevent entry of unauthorized Qur’an textbooks,” he added.
Al-Qahtani said pilgrims carrying currency, jewelry and gold valued at more than SR60,000 should inform customs officers at the entry points in order to avoid legal action.
“We have noticed that some Iranian pilgrims carry with them pistachios, nuts and saffron while many Arab and Asian pilgrims bring various types of food items. Yemeni pilgrims carry with them various delicious dishes to give them to their relatives in Saudi Arabia as gifts,” he pointed out.
Yemenis will also bring honey, sesame oil, garlic, misab and gas stove.
Ahmed Bundagji, a Tawafa official said Southeast Asian pilgrims are distinguished for their attractive uniforms. A group of every 50 to 80 pilgrims will have a single uniform and a particular sign to recognize them quickly. This sign can be seen on their bags, head and shoulders.
Abdul Razaq Hussein, another Tawafa official, said many Sudanese pilgrims bring red tea and some traditional food items, which they use throughout the Haj season. Egyptian pilgrims bring mango while those from Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon bring thyme and nuts.
“Somalis and Yemenis carry frankincense and incense available in their country while Moroccan and Tunisian Hajis bring various types of olive oil,” Hussein told Makkah daily.