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iDumb
December 19, 2016, 04:48 AM
If any of you have done this trip by yourself and/or with your family/elderly person. .please share your experience..

where were you travelling from. Cost. the the whole experience.

What's the cheapest way to travel without sharing a bed with a stranger LOL.

mufi_02
December 19, 2016, 10:23 AM
Are you planning to go? Ajfar went this year and he can give you the latest details.

iDumb
December 19, 2016, 02:01 PM
Are you planning to go? Ajfar went this year and he can give you the latest details.

i would love to read a detailed post from him. i know he is very busy but still.

I am contemplating...

roman
December 19, 2016, 04:20 PM
My friend and his wife went to Hajj this year from NYC. Cost was $7,800.

Ajfar
December 19, 2016, 05:58 PM
My friend and his wife went to Hajj this year from NYC. Cost was $7,800.

Roman bhai can you please find out from your friend the name of the travel agency he went with and let me know. Also can you please ask him if he would recommend them to his friend/family? I asked someone who went with a Bangladesh travel agent and that person told me I'm better off staying away from BD travel agents because they try to do shady things and not so reliable.

iDumb I would love to write all about my experience for you. There is so much to tell. I'll try to post something here soon.

iDumb
December 19, 2016, 11:09 PM
Thank you ajfar ... can't wait to read your detailed post ..

I did some online searching and it seems like it's cheaper from Bangladesh than in nyc even if the hotel quality and distance is the same ...

I have to improve myself as human being and improve other aspect of my belief before I go for hajj but I really want to go for umrah as part of a small journey to discover inner peace ..

And it will be shorter and much much cheaper ... I don't think I would be able to tolerate staying for a month ... less than a week is my ideal time frame ...

roman
December 20, 2016, 12:27 AM
Roman bhai can you please find out from your friend the name of the travel agency he went with and let me know. Also can you please ask him if he would recommend them to his friend/family? I asked someone who went with a Bangladesh travel agent and that person told me I'm better off staying away from BD travel agents because they try to do shady things and not so reliable.

iDumb I would love to write all about my experience for you. There is so much to tell. I'll try to post something here soon.


Please check your pm..

Rifat
December 20, 2016, 10:03 AM
Thank you ajfar ... can't wait to read your detailed post ..

I did some online searching and it seems like it's cheaper from Bangladesh than in nyc even if the hotel quality and distance is the same ...

I have to improve myself as human being and improve other aspect of my belief before I go for hajj but I really want to go for umrah as part of a small journey to discover inner peace ..

And it will be shorter and much much cheaper ... I don't think I would be able to tolerate staying for a month ... less than a week is my ideal time frame ...

'Umrah can be done in less than a day(maybe within 3/4 hours at max). unless you plan to travel to Madina. I recommend a week stay for the whole trip. Spend at least three days in Medina. Mecca, if you go during busy times(ramadan/hajj season) then you may find it rough. otherwise, you may find it to be a very peaceful experience. Medina visit is a must. from my experience and the experience of many others, it is the most peaceful city in the world and the people's hospitality is off the charts...

Rifat
December 20, 2016, 10:07 AM
Do 'Umrah first then Hajj so that when you go for Hajj, you can handle it. 'Umrah can be very peaceful to reiterate if you end up finding the Haraam empty-ish meaning you go during non-busy season. Hajj, to master it you need loads of loads of patience!

for most people, seeing the Ka'baa for the first time gives them goosebumps, for me personally, it was leaving it.

Ajfar
December 21, 2016, 05:43 PM
I went for Umrah during the 2015 thanksgiving break (11/25/15 to 12/2/16). I booked my trip through a travel agency called Aqra Travel. They are based out of California, I found them by doing google search. The owner of the agency is Bangali. I had a great experience dealing with them and everything went perfectly. After I booked my package, they asked me to fill out the necessary forms and mail my passport to them. They mailed me an Umrah kit with clothes for Ihram and a travel bag. I got a little nervous since I didn’t get my passport back until the day before my flight, but that was because the Saudi embassy took a long time to give out visas. I called them few times and they assured me that I would get my passport on time. After I met some of the people during the trip, I found out I was one of the lucky ones to get it the day before. Some people met Aqra agent the LA airport the day of to get their passport. We had a total of about 50-60 people in the group. I was the only person that went from east coast, majority of the people were from California. The reason for that is, Aqra travel advertised their Umrah package through their local mosque in Norco, CA. The group was led by 2 Imams; one was the Imam of Norco Islamic Center. I found both of the Imams to be very helpful; they gave small talks throughout the entire process to help everyone. I think both of them have Urdu background but they did all of the talking in English. I found their talks to be very helpful throughout the entire Umrah process as well as when we did tours of different sites in Makkah and Madinah.

I flew from Boston, MA to Jeddah with a stopover in Istanbul for about 5-6 hours. The package I flew with, also offered departures from other major US cities like Chicago, New York, Atlanta and couple more. I was extremely nervous during my flight because I wasn’t sure how I would meet the rest of the group when I get to Jeddah. They told me, their agents will be at the airport for meet and greet but I was still worried. I put my Ihram on Istanbul before I got on the plane, since I didn’t want to get ready in the plane. I thought there will be more people getting ready in Istanbul, but there weren’t that many. The walk from the masjid in the airport to my gate was at least 10-15 min. That was a nervous walk for me. I didn’t realize I’d have to walk across the airport wearing my Ihram for the first time. The plan landed at Jeddah airport around 5-6 am. I didn’t get out of immigration until around 10 am. Experience at Jeddah airport was by far the worse experience I ever had at any airport. This was even worse than my experience at Dhaka airport. At least in Bangladesh, I can talk to people around me and ask questions. No one here was helping. I didn’t even know if I was standing in the right line. I followed a Turkish Umrah group and stayed behind them. The entire time I kept looking for Aqra Travel logo bag to see if I can find anyone else from our group. But I didn’t see anyone. I was standing in the same place for at least 2 hours without moving. We were stuck behind a group of migrant workers coming in. They were arguing back and forth, no one had any idea what was going on. Finally I met a group of people from Houston; I ended up following them along. We moved to a different line after a while and finally got through. Because it took so long to get out of immigration, they had to clear out the belt and there was no information available as to where they put our luggage. After we got through immigration, one of the migrant workers at the airport helped us out. Luckily the people I met from Houston were Pakistani, so they were able to talk to the migrant worker in Urdu and find out where they put luggage from what flights. As soon as I got out of the airport I saw agents with Aqra travel sign, so I didn’t have any problem finding them.

It took us about 1 - 1.5 hours to go from Jeddah to our hotel in Makkah. The hotel was located about 5-7 min walk from the courtyard of the masjid and it took probably another 10-15 min walk to get to Kabbah. Everyone was really tired after getting to the hotels, so the Imams recommended people rest a bit instead of doing Umrah right away and do it after Isha. We met as a group at the hotel lobby after Isha and left for Kabbah. After getting to the Kabbah we started as a group, but in the middle of the Tawaf people got scattered. That’s pretty common, given the number of people that are there. Imams warned us this will most likely happen; it’s just not possible to remain as a group. This is why it is so important that you prepare well, so you understand all the rituals and what you are supposed to do throughout. If you prepare well enough, you can do it on your own, you won’t find it hard at all. After getting lost from the main group during Tawaf, I ended up in a group with 3 other people from my group and we were able to complete the rest of the Umrah together without the rest of the group. It took us probably around 2.5 – 3 hours to do Umrah. I was wearing the Ihram for around 20 hours or so, and that was a very difficult experience. I had never experienced this kind of discomfort in my life. It’s extremely hot, you are sweating continuously. But that is the point, you go through this struggle only for Allah, you wouldn’t do something like this for anyone else. Being in the state of Ihram, surrounded by people all there for one purpose, really does put you in your place. It was a very personal experience but at the same time a group experience, I don’t think anyone can explain this. It’s just one of those things that make sense to you. The most difficult part in the state of Ihram for me was during my time at the Jeddah airport. I kept thinking to myself if I’m having this difficult time for Umrah; imagine what people go through when they are in Ihram for Hajj.

After finishing Umrah, we had the next day and half to ourselves. The rest of the time we were there, I just tried to make the most of it by staying near Kabbah. I did want to touch the black stone, but it’s not safe at all given the amount of pushing and shoving people do. I think some people think as if, if I can make it to the black stone, that’s it I’ve I hit the jackpot. But you are literally hurting people along the way to get there, that’s not what our religion teaches. I had a chance to pray inside the half wall that’s outside the kabah, it’s called Hatim. The area inside the half wall is actually considered inside of the kabah, because this was originally part of the kabah. When ancestors of the Quraish were rebuilding the wall after some damage took place, they didn’t have enough funds to include the area inside the half wall. I decided not to pray inside Hatim, because it was just too crowded. People are standing literally against one another, there’s not even any space to do Sajdah in front of you. Our group went for Umrah at a very good time, they just started giving out Umrah visas after hajj, so the crowd wasn’t too bad. When I went to Kabah late night, the crowd was light and I was able to get as close as the wall of the kabah multiple times. One of thing I really enjoyed doing around Kabah was people watching. The continuous flow of crowd over and over again, it stops for 10 min during salah and start again. It’s like this every day, never stops and that will continue until the end of times. The travel agent arranged a tour for the group to show some of the historical sites in Makkah (I think this tour is pretty standard and offered by all travel agents). I was really tired, so I ended up skipping the tour. I heard from other people in my group, they enjoyed the tour. They went to Mina, Mujdhalifa, Masjid Ayesha, Mount Arafat and Jabal-e-Noor (where Angel Jibreel brought verses of the Quran to Prophet (SAW) for the first time). They didn’t actually climb the mountains, they just went close to it so people can take pictures.

We were in Makkah for 2 nights. We left for Madinah after Zohr and reached around Magrib time. I didn’t time the journey but if I had to guess probably around 4.5-5 hours by bus. I really liked the bus ride from Makkah to Madinah. There was stretches we drove through where all you see around are mountains and no trees. We stayed in Madinah for 3 nights. The hotel we stayed in Madinah was right outside the courtyard of the masjid (1 min walk), probably 10 min walk to get to where the Prophet (SAW) is buried. There’s no specific ritual you have to do in Madinah, the main purpose is to visit our Prophet (SAW). When you visit the grave of Prophet (SAW) and his companions (Abu Bak and Umar (rad) are buried next to Prophet (SAW)), you should only give them salam and that’s it. A lot of people face his grave and start making dua, that’s not right. That can fall under Shirk. One of the memorable parts of the journey for me was visiting the Jannatul Baqi (grave yard next to Masjid Nabwai). When you are in Makkah/Madinah, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in Janazah after almost every salah. I didn’t realize that you can actually walk to the graveyard as they carry the body. One of the guy’s in my group told me about it. So, the next day I followed the crowd that took the body and went into Jannatul baqi. I walked as far in as I could with the crowd and took part in the burial. The travel agent arranged a group tour in Madinah as well. We went to Masjid Quba (the first masjid build by the Prophet (SAW), Prophet (SAW) said praying 2 raqah salah in Masjid Quba is equivalent to performing Umrah), Masjid Qiblatain (the place where Prophet (SAW) was praying salah with 10 other companions when the order came from Allah to change the Qibla from Masjid Al-Aqsa to Kabbah), Masjid near the battle of trenches (this is where Prophet (SAW) ordered the people of Madinah to dig trenches to prevent the Quraish and other tribes from getting into Madinah to attack them), the location of battle of Uhud and a date farm. Other than that, we had time to ourselves to enjoy Madinah. I really liked Madinah. Compared to Makkah, Madinah is such a peaceful city. Makkah is like your city lifestyle, hustle and bustle. In Madinah, it seemed like people are more laid back and relaxed.

If someone asked me for advice or share tips based on my experience, these are things I’d tell them:

- If I’m able to go back again, I want to go to Madinah first and then Makkah. If you go to Madinah first, you don’t have to wear your Ihram on the plane. This will allow you to get to Madinah, relax, get used to the heat a little bit and then wear Ihram when you leave for Makkah to do Umrah. Also the difference between Madinah airport and Jeddah airport are night and day. Majority of the people go to Jeddah first, so it’s very crowded. As oppose to Madinah you will go through immigration a lot quicker and the facility is much better. This mostly depends on the package you sign up for. The package I signed up for had Makkah first. In the future I’ll ask them to find out if they have Madinah first package.

- Prepare as if you will be doing Umrah by yourself. You might get separated from your group and won’t be able to ask your group leader if you have any questions. I think Saudi government does have information booths in places so you can go ask questions, but you are better off if you know the whole process yourself. I prepared by reading and watching workshop videos by various scholars. I’d recommend Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s Umrah workshop video on Youtube. Majority of the time throughout Tawaf and Sai (walking back and forth between safa and marwa), you should be doing your own personal dua/remembrance of Allah, it’s not supposed to be a collective effort. I saw groups where their leader reads the dua out loud word by word and people following along. I just don’t think that’s beneficial, most of the times people are following the leader without understanding the meaning of the dua they are making. Why do that, when you can talk to Allah directly in your own words, you know best why you are there.

- Don’t take pictures. Most of the people are taking selfies or pictures with kabah in the background while they are making dua because they want put them up on social media. You are about to perform one of the greatest act of worshipping as a Muslim, why sacrifice your sincerity for few likes. I even saw people doing facetime while performing Tawaf. You are not only distracting yourself, but you also end up distracting those around you.

- After you are done with your Umrah, try to do as many nafl Tawaf as you can while you are in Makkah. Tawaf is a very unique act of worship and you can’t do this anywhere else in the world. I tried to do it once after every Salah. Most of the people do their Tawaf in the main floor, if you want to stay away from the crowd go to the 2nd or 3rd floor.

- If you want to pray your salah around the Kabah area, try to get there at least 1 hour or more before salah start. The security has to control the crowd, so they usually shut down most of the entrance to kabah when it gets closer to salah time.

- Be generous toward the migrant workers who clean up both of the masjids, they are truly the custodian of the house of Allah and the Prophet (SAW)’s masjid.

- Try to learn about the life of our Prophet (SAW) and the hardship his companions dealt with. I felt like I’m going to visit the greatest human being to have stepped on the face of this earth and I know very little about him and his companions. You will appreciate this journey so much more if you know what they were able to accomplish and how much they had to struggle for it.

- Be careful of con artists, you will get people who come up to you in and around the masjid asking for money citing lots of different reasons. Don’t take any valuables items with you when you go to the masjid for salah. In my experience, I found the hotels to be extremely safe. I left my wallet, passport things like that in the room and just kept some cash with me.

- Since our hotel was located somewhat close to the masjid, I only had to use the public restrooms around the masjid area couple times. The public restrooms don’t have any toilet paper. In the future I’ll make sure I have toilet rolls with me. They do have western style toilets, so that’s not a problem. During our trip from Makkah to Madinah, we stopped at a rest stop to pray Asr. They didn’t have any western style toilets, so that was a problem for some people in our group.

- You don’t have to have Saudi currency with you to buy things in a store. It’s good to have enough to get you through, but if you run out you can just use dollars. I used dollar at a store, the shopkeeper just did the conversion and told me how much it was in terms of dollar.

The cost of my package was $1795. This included visa, airfare, hotel (breakfast included) and transportation. I can send you my group’s itinerary if you want to see it. I signed up for the quad package because I didn’t mind sharing room with other people and it was the cheapest. If I tried to get a single room it was going to cost me another $400 I think. The cost of food in Saudi is not that much. If you are going for a week I think you can manage your food expense within 50-60 dollar for the week, from what I understand most of the hotels offer breakfast. If someone is single or going alone, I’d definitely recommend you get a room with other people. One of the reasons I think getting a room with other people makes sense is, you’ll spend very little time in the hotel room anyway. You are not there for vacation, you will want to maximize your time by spending most of the time in the masjids. If money is not a concern for you, then it’s up to you, nothing wrong with wanting some privacy. One of the other reasons is getting a chance to meet new people. I’m very anti-social, so this was very difficult for me but I’m glad I went through with this. My roommates were a Bangladeshi uncle, a Pakistani uncle and a Bosnian brother. I had a really nice experience getting to know them, specially the Bosnian brother. I became really good friends with him and another Bangladeshi guy I met from California. I met some other really nice people in our Umrah group. I met one Moroccan brother, who teaches Islamic class in a prison. It was really interesting listening to his experience about working with prisoners. If I kept to myself, I would have missed out on meeting some really nice people.



I am contemplating...

I always wanted to go to Makkah to see Kabbah, but I never imagined I would go under the circumstances I did. I was going through some personal things, I felt like I needed to get away from everything in life and just focus on what’s important/matters. I decided I wanted to do Umrah and I just went with it. I didn’t think much about it. Those 5-6 days were amazing and gave me a new perspective in life. What I would tell you is, be true to yourself. Think about why you want to do this, think about what you are looking to get out of this experience. Don’t think about how difficult it will be or if you can make it wearing Ihram in the heat or other things. It’s going to be a difficult journey, you are going to have to deal with a lot of discomfort, you are going to have to deal with things you are not used to. Remember, you are not doing this because it’s convenient or easy. When I was stuck at Jeddah airport for 4-5 hours, I was thinking to myself I don’t know if I can go through this again. Now, I can’t wait to go back again.

I travel agency I went through is offering a similar deal during the upcoming spring break. Here is the link you can check it out: http://www.roadtomakkah.com/page37.html


What's the cheapest way to travel without sharing a bed with a stranger

You don't have to share bed with anyone. Whether you stay in quad, triple or double room, they all have single beds.


I don't think I would be able to tolerate staying for a month ... less than a week is my ideal time frame ...

You don't have to stay one month to do hajj. I think most people go for 2 to 3 weeks. The main portion of Hajj itself takes 5 days, and you need another 5-7 days on top of that to do your initial Umrah before Hajj and the visit to Madinah before or after Hajj.

Rifat
December 21, 2016, 06:30 PM
fantastic review Ajfar. did you get to try some local tea @ Madina?, best tea i have had in my life and it only costed 2 Riyals.

BengaliPagol
December 21, 2016, 07:09 PM
Thnx for the write up ajfar. Appreciate it

iDumb
December 23, 2016, 10:27 AM
excellent writeup ajfar. I read it once.. I will come back to it again and again to read more time for the info.

I am sure your post will help out a lot of ppl..

And you are right - I am already having nightmares...I don't like discomfort but I think I should do this soon.

Zeeshan
December 24, 2016, 08:39 PM
If any of you have done this trip by yourself and/or with your family/elderly person. .please share your experience..

where were you travelling from. Cost. the the whole experience.

What's the cheapest way to travel without sharing a bed with a stranger LOL.

word ta shune bhablam ekta ushkano mulok post korbo...kintu korlam na....jemon i wonder how it feels like to get shroomed up and do the umrah...anyhoo that's just me...a weirdo

adamnsu
January 2, 2017, 06:24 PM
Assalamuallykum.

My younger brother in law did if for around £5000 from londokn with 3 elder family members two of them female. This covered flights, food,lodging,visas, and guide. There was also a prep before travelling. Hotels were very good and they had their own beds, but 1 bathroom was shared by 4 people.

I allhamdullilah did umrah wit my family including in-laws. It cost just over £1000 for flights, visas , lodging and transfers. We went in March. Hotels were in prime locations and transfers were in SUVs.

You can do Umrah for much cheaper, by opting for cheaper transfers like bus and hotels a but far away from the Mosques.

I have made a small and simple guide for Hajj and Umrah. Please inbox me your email and I can provide InshahAllah

Nocturnal
January 4, 2017, 02:47 AM
Ajfar, thank you for the detail write up.

Kabir
January 5, 2017, 03:25 PM
Checked into BC after many months, and saw this thread.

We went for Umrah on our way to Dhaka from Toronto last year. It was particularly interesting since we stayed for roughly 3 days, and went to Jeddah, Makkah and Madina! We arrived around 7am in Jeddah, left for Umrah by 2-3pm. One thing to note - you have to wear Ihram while you are within a certain range away from Makkah...so we had to wear ours on the plane. We did our Asr and Maghrib after Umrah, and got back around 9 or 10pm. We had our 2 years old son who was completely exhausted, so we had to do Tawaf with him on our lap. Ouch! We were extremely tired and jet lagged, and couldn't wait to come out of the Ihram. We stayed at relative's place in Jeddah so can't share much about Makkah's hotels. We stayed one night in Madina at an adjoining hotel to Masjid Al Nabwi.

I agree with most of Ajfar's comments..here are a few things I would also add. Also, I won't provide cost estimates as we were very lucky to have some generous hosts who paid for our hotels, food, took us around, and even chartered a Yukon for round trip rides from Jeddah to Madina!

- Don't expect a clean washroom in Saudi. I did not find one in 3 days...not even at a 5-star hotel (like Movenpick)

- Try to go to Madina before Makkah. That will give you time to unwind, and you don't have to be in your Ihram until you start for Makkah from Madina. The Ihram material is a bit rough, I cannot tell you how uncomfortable it gets on your skin if you're weak and haven't slept in 30+ hrs.

- Plan ahead so that your trip doesn't coincide with a local school holiday. The day we went to Makkah the local schools were closed...it was so packed that we could not do Tawaf on the main floor of Makkah!

- If you're going with a female, be extra careful with the mehram stuff.

- You will have to work with a visa agency for your Umrah visa. You cannot work directly with Saudi embassy. It's HIGHLY recommended that you buy the ticket from the same travel agency that helps process the visa. I know some agencies don't want to work with folks for visa processing if they didn't buy the ticket from them. They charge an absurd amount of processing fee - even for infants.

- You will need meningitis vaccine (in our case) which can cost upwards of $150/person + cost of administration. Your extended health coverage may cover cost of this so check with them.

- If you're going with a child in stroller, you're not allowed to take stroller inside the mosque at Makkah

- Read up on saudi etiquette around pictures and so on. We may take things for granted after living in the west for so long.

- Eat, eat and eat...you are unlikely to find food at such price again in your life.

Shingara
January 8, 2017, 11:39 AM
Have done Umrah 4 times.
Will add my inputs in a bit

Shingara
January 8, 2017, 06:05 PM
Found this (http://www.banglacricket.com/alochona/showthread.php?t=42306)

Use Expedia or direct airline or hotel sites to make your bookings. Don't be a geramer pola and go to a travel agent and get their packages. Sepnd a bit of time, play around with dates and you can me your own package. Expedia also shows hotel distance from Masjid Al Harm ( Makkah ) or Masjid Al Nabi ( Medina )

You do still have to go to a travel agent to get your Umrah visa. They take your passport alongwith others and send one of their staff to KSA embassy to get a visa. KSA embassy will not deal with you directly in person. The visa is free but you pay the travel agency for their time and effort to go to KSA embassy.

Plan your route as US to Medina. Spend a few days. Buy and wear ihram and then jump on a Saudia domestic flight to Jeddah ( takes only an hour and cheaper than taxi). Take taxi to Makkah , spend a few days and fly from Jeddah to US. Flights can work out a bit more as it is not a simple RETURN.
If you want a proper US Return flight, then go for [US > Jeddah while wearing your ihram ] > spend time in Makkah > Saudia flight to Medina > spend time in Medina > Saudia flight back to Jeddah > Jeddah to US

When you land first time in KSA, your passport is given by Saudi police to your travel agent's rep. They then take you and your apssport outside the airport and then only will he hand your passport back.

When I went in 97, there were some very good BD restaurants - Dhaka restaurant and Chittagong restaurant. Both were amazing. Sadly, when I went in 2010, these were no longer the same and had turned into Mohammadpur's rastar restaurant.

iDumb
January 8, 2017, 06:18 PM
Thank you shingara ...you are right ... it's seems much better to book on own than using package deal / agent ... I prefer to do things my own way to and hate group type of travelling ...

Kabir
January 9, 2017, 10:32 AM
Orphy - you will probably still need to do some sort of "group" things for Umrah. Even though we had our accommodation, we were made to pay for bus, other stuff that we didn't end up using. The Saudi govt has requirements you must fulfill by buying these group stuff. FYI.

Shingara
January 10, 2017, 04:18 AM
The Saudi govt has requirements you must fulfill by buying these group stuff. FYI.

:-/ That doesn't sound right. Everytime I have been over the years, I arranged my own taxis for sightseeing. I have a feeling it's bs that our deshi travel agents like to sell to make extra fooloos

Shingara
January 10, 2017, 04:20 AM
Thank you shingara ...you are right ... it's seems much better to book on own than using package deal / agent ... I prefer to do things my own way to and hate group type of travelling ...

PM me dates and your party details ( how many in your family want to go together and if they are kids or adults and from which airport in US you want to fly out ) and I'll have a look and let you know of the prices and your options.

Kabir
January 10, 2017, 10:02 AM
:-/ That doesn't sound right. Everytime I have been over the years, I arranged my own taxis for sightseeing. I have a feeling it's bs that our deshi travel agents like to sell to make extra fooloos

You have to have a prepaid bus from the airport to the hotel if you're arriving in Jeddah. Except, we didn't have a hotel. So we had to have the bus driver drop us elsewhere, where our ride picked us up! We were told this was required by the govt - though, you may be right about our deshi agents. It wasn't a bangladeshi agent, but a deshi one nevertheless.