‘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.


Formula E’s Felipe Massa races ‘fastest animal on planet’ in Saudi Arabia

Updated 10 December 2018
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Formula E’s Felipe Massa races ‘fastest animal on planet’ in Saudi Arabia

  • ABB FIA Formula E Championship listens to fans by pitting Gen2 car and Felipe Massa in race against a peregrine falcon in Saudi Arabia
  • Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometers south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon

RIYADH: Formula E driver Felipe Massa behind the wheel of a Gen2 racing car has gone up against a peregrine falcon in a straight fight in Saudi Arabia to outrun the fastest animal on the planet.

It’s not the first time the fully-electric Formula E car has been pitted against a member of the animal kingdom, with reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne racing a cheetah on the Western Cape of South Africa last year.

Narrowly edging out the fastest land mammal in 2017, Formula E fans asked for a re-match — but this time together with more stern competition. Listening to the feedback of fans on social media, it was the turn of the peregrine falcon, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 350 km/h (217 mph) when diving through the skies above Saudi Arabia.

Massa was in the Kingdom ahead of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix, which will see the racing legend line-up on the Formula E starting grid for the first time on December 15 at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh.

For the battle of man and machine vs the natural world, the winged predator was trained to set its sights on a different kind of prey roaming through the desert — with a lure attached to the roll hoop of the advanced new-look Gen2 car.

Spreading his wings for the first time in Formula E machinery, 90-kilometers south-west of the Ad Diriyah, Massa’s mirrors loomed large with the claws of the peregrine falcon. But did he manage to shake off his opponent?

To watch Felipe and the falcon in flying formation, visit — https://youtu.be/ERxeaV60_7g

Felipe Massa, VENTURI Formula E Team driver, said: “It was an incredible experience for me to race against the fastest member of the animal kingdom — it’s not something I will forget in a hurry. I like the fact that this idea came from the fans, and Formula E listened and accepted the challenge.

“The footage from the drive is very special and it was a privilege to take part. I’m looking forward to returning to Ad Diriyah and to start racing. It’ll be my first race in Formula E and I’m eager to get behind the wheel again. I’ve missed racing and this series has shown to be one of the most competitive out there.”

The 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix is the opening round of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship and the competitive debut of the Gen2 car and VENTURI Formula E Team driver Felipe Massa.

As well as Formula E action, exciting fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions, plus unique dining and retail experiences will be awaiting ticketholders at Ad Diriyah, across three days, starting December 13.

That evening, December 13, will see Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo kick off the first of three incredible nights of music concerts for fans. The following day, December 14, Arab music legend Amr Diab and globally-renowned pop band Black Eyed Peas will delight the audience. And, on December 15, race day, following the exhilarating 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix, US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will bring the event to an electrifying finale.

Only fans holding tickets will be able to access the entire Ad Diriyah site, including all the action, fun, and thrilling complimentary concerts.

Tickets are on sale at http://fiaformulae.com/Ad-Diriyah and are also available at Point of Sale units at Riyadh Park Mall, Oud Square and Doos Carting (only Grandstand tickets from Doos) and Seven Car Lounge.