Dubai school students, staff help bus drivers perform Umrah

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The staff and students at a Dubai school have come together to facilitate an Umrah pilgrimage for four of its long-serving bus drivers.

Gems Modern Academy’s (GMA) drivers visited Makkah and Madinah during the Holy Month of Ramadan, making it the first trip since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is the fifth group of GMA staff that has visited the holy sites, thanks to the staff and students at the school.

So far, 56 members of the school’s ancillary staff and drivers have visited the Grand Mosque (Holy Kaaba).

The GMA community of teaching staff, non-teaching staff, students, and parents collaborated for this special trip.

Ibrahim Ali, a driver who has served GMA for more than 10 years, opines that the opportunity was a dream come true for him. “The initiative of my school is surely a positive and inspiring message to every institution in the country. It is amazing to see a group of staff from different nationalities performing Umrah together. This unique initiative demonstrates diversity and tolerance in the UAE.”

Another pilgrim, Pakistani driver Irfan Farid, says he felt like “this was a life-time achievement award for us”

He added: "We will be indebted to the staff and the leadership of the school to give us this opportunity. Our families back home are praying for our well-being while we pray for the well-being of the school and the group, its leaders and the staff who have been so supportive and caring’.

Similarly, driver Fiaz Ali said: ‘This initiative just goes to show the care and compassion our fellow staff have for us; we have prayed for everyone in this wonderful organization, may Allah bless them and their families abundantly.”

Teachers at the school underline how the Umrah pilgrimage performed by the Modern ancillary staff and drivers is something both teachers and staff look forward to when it is announced in the month of Shawwal.

Mohammed Meera, an Islamic Studies teacher at Modern Academy says, “making someone happy is considered one of the greatest deeds. By fulfilling the wish of a Muslim to perform a holy pilgrimage not only brings us closer to Allah, but also a source of repentance.”

Meanwhile, Saudi authorities have announced that they have lifted the maximum age limit for overseas pilgrims travelling to the country to perform Umrah.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah previously barred international pilgrims over the age of 50 from applying for an Umrah permit.

The latest update allows any international traveller over the age of 18 to visit Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

Rumana Azeez, a senior English Teacher at GEMS Modern academy, said “I am blessed to be a part of this spiritual journey that supports members of the Modern family to visit the two holy sites. I am so delighted to know that a small effort can make such a huge impact in the lives of our staff.

Ameer Abbas Ashtarian, Grade 12 student at GEMS Modern Academy said: “Umrah is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I performed Umrah for the first time when I was in Grade 7. The beauty of the Kaaba's allure is like nothing I have ever seen before. I am very happy to contribute to this remarkable initiative and support Modern’s support staff to experience this spiritual journey.”

This year, Saudi Arabia is gearing up to welcome one million Haj pilgrims.

This will be the first time in two years that international visitors will be able to perform the pilgrimage.