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Owner of Indian Muslim restaurant Singapore Zam Zam saved for three years to take 27 of his staff to Mecca for their first Umrah pilgrimage, to repay them for all they have done for the company. All of them have worked for the company for five to 30 years.
The restaurant was closed for 10 days from June 19 to June 28 while the employees were off to Mecca and reopened on Thursday (June 29) to welcome customers. Zackeer Khan, who has been managing Zam Zam for almost six years, told The Straits Times that the company paid for the 28 travellers’ visas, tickets and hotel accommodation for nine days. “We do this for our workers because they’ve worked very long and very hard for us,” said Khan.
Shedding light on Umrah, Khan shared that Umrah differs from the Haj – a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca – in that it can be performed at any time of the year. Some pilgrims take the Umrah as a preparation for the haj. “For all of the staff, it’s their first time going for Umrah,” Khan added, making the trip a much more meaningful one.
The company chose to go during the last 10 days of Ramadan, even though the restaurant’s business would be booming, because of the special prayers held at Mecca. This certainly was worth the risk, as “the workers cried and were very happy,” Khan said.
Zam Zam had put up a notice on its Facebook page last Monday (June 19) informing its customers of the closure. When news broke of the restaurant’s closing for its employees to go for an Umrah, netizens applauded the move and wished them safe travels.
30-year-old Navas Koleth, who has been an employee of Zam Zam for seven years, told The Straits Times: “I’m really happy to work here, it’s very difficult to find a boss like this who can sponsor (our trips). We are like a family.
“It was really nice to be there, it was our dream. Our restaurant usually does not close and it’s really difficult to get off days during Ramadan because we’re so busy, so it was really surprising when my boss said he’s going to Umrah and said anyone who wants to come along can come.”