‘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
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‘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.


Pilgrims praise Saudi efforts during Hajj

Updated 15 min 10 sec ago
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Pilgrims praise Saudi efforts during Hajj

  • Pilgrims praise the organization of the Hajj ritual areas
  • Millions pass through relatively small areas to perform the rituals

ARAFAT: Pilgrims from around the world have expressed their gratitude for the services provided to them by the Saudi authorities, and praised the quality.
“Despite the small size of the holy sites area and the massive gatherings of pilgrims coming yearly to this place, Saudi Arabia has succeeded in managing the huge crowds,” said Jihad Obaid, an Iraqi pilgrim performing Hajj for the first time. The only thing he does not like is the hot weather, but the water sprinklers installed along the way have been a great help, he added.
“These sprinklers reflect how caring the Saudi government is,” he said. “We all know that man can’t control weather challenges, but the preparations made to protect pilgrims is a sign of the great efforts to help pilgrims carry out their rituals comfortably.”
Mas’ood BuHadji, from Algeria, thanked the security guards for the work they do for pilgrims.
“I would like to extend my thanks and appreciations to the security men who spare no effort in assisting the pilgrims to easily complete their rituals,” he said. “Although I am not Saudi, I feel proud of these Muslim security men, whose job here is not only to secure pilgrims a safe Hajj, but also offer them bottles of cold water.
“Hajj is now easier than ever; the Jamarat Bridge, the services and everything.”