‘Makkah Road Initiative’ to fast-track Malaysian and Indonesian Hajj pilgrims

Malaysian Muslim pilgrims arrive in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah on their way to Makkah. (File photo AFP)
Updated 15 July 2018

‘Makkah Road Initiative’ to fast-track Malaysian and Indonesian Hajj pilgrims

  • Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia join forces to launch the “Makkah Road Initiative"
  • It will help Hajj pilgrims to fast-track journeys to the Holy Land

KUALA LUMPUR: Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia have joined forces to launch the “Makkah Road Initiative” this year, a pre-clearance system that will help Hajj pilgrims to fast-track journeys to the Holy Land.
Two flights carrying Hajj pilgrims were commissioned at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to mark the official launch, which was attended by officials from Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
According to Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Mujahid Yusuf, who also launched the Makkah Road Initiative, pilgrims will no longer have to wait in long queues to finalize documentation such as visa stamps, customs, and health screenings.
“All these will be sorted out in KLIA, and when our (Malaysian) pilgrims arrive (in Madinah), they can just take the bus to the hotel. Their luggage will be managed by the Saudi authorities,” Dr. Yusuf added.
A world first, the initiative has been made possible by multi-agency collaboration within Saudi Arabia, as well as weeks of preparation by officials in the Kingdom, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Makkah Road Initiative will cut time and entrance procedures for pilgrims from Malaysia and Indonesia to Saudi Arabia through a “unified electronic paths” and “pre-clearance procedures” before arrival at Madinah airport, according to officials.
The services provided under the initiative include issuing visas, customs and passport procedures, facilitating health requirements, baggage management, and housing arrangements in Makkah.
The initiative also involves checking off the pilgrims’ entry visas into the Kingdom at the airport when the flight departs. Travel arrangements will be “confirmed electronically”, including health requirements where pilgrims can skip the paper documents on vaccines at the airport in their own country.
Fingerprints and passports are to be taken and stamped “electronically” in their home country before departure. Pilgrims will fly from either the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, and will arrive at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz in Madinah.
The pilgrims will check out at the airport arrival hall “like a domestic flight” while their luggage will be sorted to their places of residence by the Ministry of Hajj.
With an increasing number of Muslim pilgrims to Makkah each year, the Saudi Arabian government has made serious efforts to streamline the process.
“We really appreciate this progress by the Kingdom,” said Zainol Rahim Zainuddin, Malaysian ambassador to the Kingdom, adding that the initiative showcased the close partnership between the governments of the Kingdom and Malaysia.
Indonesia, which has the biggest Muslim population in the world, had 221,000 of pilgrims arriving in Makkah last year. Malaysia, a Muslim majority nation, increased its number of pilgrims to 31,300 in 2017 from an initial projection of 30,200.
The Makkah Road Initiative is part of the National Transition Programs (2020). It aims to fulfil the Vision 2030 objective of having well-developed public services and infrastructure throughout the Kingdom.

Jeddah workshop warns of the dangers of litter

Volunteers and environmental enthusiasts at a recent cleaning campaign activity in Jeddah. (Supplied Image)
Updated 54 sec ago

Jeddah workshop warns of the dangers of litter

  • Our events have not only been well received by Saudis, but we also had several requests to conduct our workshops at schools, offices and even hospitals: Love Earth founder
  • Love Earth was founded in August by Dana Droubi, 27, and Diana Rifai, 28, a freelance journalist and community manager at Humming Tree Jeddah

JEDDAH: A workshop titled “Pathways to Sustainable Living” was hosted by the Jeddah-based environmental group Love Earth at Kayan Space on Saturday to raise awareness about litter and its effects on us and the environment — particularly plastic waste in the oceans.

It included explanatory talks by Essam Jawa, founder of the group Team Up to Clean Up; Emad Salhab, committee member of Hejaz Ploggers; and Mouna Othman, co-founder of Naqaa Sustainable Solutions, who discussed environmental issues inside and outside the Kingdom.

Love Earth was founded in August by Dana Droubi, 27, and Diana Rifai, 28, a freelance journalist and community manager at Humming Tree Jeddah. Both are Syrians, humanitarians and environmental enthusiasts. 

“We founded Love Earth to spread and promote awareness on matters related to the environment, that is including animals,” Rifai told Arab News. “In addition, we plan to promote humanitarian and volunteer work to encourage people to take part in giving back to their community. Basically we believe in a global community, and that you do not have to be a citizen of a country to care for people in need, animals in need or the environment. 

“Our events have not only been well received by Saudis, but we also had several requests to conduct our workshops at schools, offices and even hospitals.

“We had a lot of Saudis in our audience, and their presence was very much needed and important because we must focus on how important it is that such a crucial cause be a global and not just a local one. If we all work together then the outcome will definitely be worth it!” 

Love Earth’s forthcoming plans include preparing several workshops for schools and businesses. “In addition to that we are working in Go Green initiatives for homes and small businesses — basically a guide to separating your waste, where to take it and how to reduce the use of harmful products that have a short life cycle,” said Rifai.

“We are currently working with big names and leaders in this field (supermarkets, shops, schools, companies) to bring hope and much more awareness, all focused on making this world a better place.” 

Love Earth contributes to Saudi Vision 2030’s goals in many ways, she said. “It promotes and empowers environmental awareness and a sustainable lifestyle through educational programs and workshops, and works on decreasing litter in collaboration with local initiatives such as beach and street cleanups. Most importantly our main goal is to raise as much awareness as possible and help make the road to a greener world an easier and fun one.”

Jawa, 53, a Saudi Arabian Airlines captain, highlighted how he and his team — as their name suggests — team up to clean up.

“The idea is to raise awareness about littering and its effects on us and the environment by establishing groups of volunteers, environmental enthusiasts, and protectors in every district to lead our cleaning campaign to expand our activity throughout Jeddah city,” he said. 


 “We will clean in public areas or populated spots where members of society shop or perform their usual sports activity to better expose our initiative to the masses and gain public support and enlarge our member base,” he said. “Having started in a group cleanup for the past weeks, we took it a step further this week to sort the trash collected on site so that we can recycle it by patterning with potential recycling plants. We have other plans to reuse plastic and glass bottles to recreate items for multiple functions such as decoration and storage.” 

His group consists of 90 members and the number is rapidly growing. “It is an amazing sign that we are on the right track.”

The group’s goal is to educate the younger generation by taking quick action “to reflect that littering is not acceptable anymore and it has to come to a halt. We need to take more responsibility toward our city and our planet.”

Jawa urges the public to start taking environmental responsibility as the consequences are horrific. “You need to start thinking about how you can distribute the awareness of the hazardous effects of plastic bags and water bottles on us and the environment,” he said.

“Marine pollution in our oceans today comprises around 80 percent plastic waste. And it is speculated that by the year 2050, there will more plastic than fish. A strange phenomenon more directly affecting us is the notion of plastic breaking down into micro plastics that we, in turn, ingest when we eat seafood and more recently in conventional water bottles. As a result a number of diseases arise, putting our health into serious jeopardy,” he warned.

“We are sending a message not as much as we clean, because no matter how much we clean, it will never be enough. Some areas take up to a year or two to clean up; we are trying to influence people to take responsibility and clean up after themselves.”

Jawa’s message to people is: “Let’s value the future in a timescale longer than ours.” 

Syrian project supervisor Emad Salhab, 30, gave a presentation on behalf of the founder of Hejaz Bloggers, Taha Boksmati. 

He explained that plogging is a combination of jogging while picking up litter. This organized activity started in Sweden in 2016 then spread worldwide since then. 

Jeddah Ploggers consist of 70 members so far. “By cleaning and keeping our city clean, it encourages tourism and reflects a good image of the country. We raise awareness for the new generation to have a sustainable life, to build new standards and concepts to make the Kingdom a better place,” Salhab told Arab News. 

Naqaa Sustainability Solutions is a Saudi social business founded in 2011 in Jeddah by young Saudi women, and has launched many green initiatives. 

Othman, co-founder and sustainable development specialist, said the business helps and advises all sectors from corporate and government offices to schools across Saudi Arabia to launch interactive and sustainable waste reduction strategies and recycling programs.

“Because up to 70 percent of office waste is recyclable, that is why we specialize in working with corporations and organizations to achieve environmental sustainability. We strive to enhance companies and organizations’ environmental sustainability performance,” she said.



A combination of jogging while picking up litter.