Makkah Route: the Saudi plan to ease Hajj pilgrims' journey

Makkah Route service will offer pre-clearance of immigration for pilgrims at their respective points of embarkation
Makkah Route: the Saudi plan to ease Hajj pilgrims' journey
(AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images)
By Sam Bridge
Sat 28 Jul 2018 09:46 AM

Saudi Arabia has launched the Makkah Route initiative in Indonesia and Malaysia to ease the journey of pilgrims.

Major-General Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al Yahya, director general of Passports and head of the initiative, said Saudi Arabia will provide the service to pilgrims from any country “wishing to benefit from it”.

The service will offer pre-clearance of immigration for pilgrims at their respective points of embarkation, he said.

Hajj officially runs from August 19-24. More than 2.35 million pilgrims performed Hajj last year, about three-quarters of whom came from outside the kingdom.

Saudi and Indonesian officials attended the launch of the initiative at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta after launching the service in Malaysia last week.

The decision to introduce the service in Malaysia and Indonesia was made on the basis of the large numbers of pilgrims coming from those two countries.

However, with some 1.75 million pilgrims arriving from abroad last year, Saudi authorities are considering extending the service to other countries in the coming years.

The Makkah Route initiative was formally launched at the launch at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, from where the first two flights carrying pilgrims who completed their entry procedures for the Kingdom left.

The head of the Saudi delegation said that the Ministry of Interior, developed the service as part of the National Transformation Programme 2020 and to achieve the goals and objectives of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 that aims to improve Hajj services.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr Hussein Al Sharif, said that the initiative “will continue to be implemented” for the benefit of the pilgrims.

The services include issuance of visas, customs and passport procedures, facilitating health requirements, as well as sorting luggage according to transportation and housing arrangements in Saudi Arabia. These pre-departure services will not only ease the access of the pilgrims into the kingdom, but they will also allow them to head directly to their accommodations in Makkah and Madinah without having to deal with time-consuming procedures.

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