Saudi Arabia to change immigration process for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims

1 / 3
Bangladeshi Muslim pilgrims arrive at Jeddah airport on July 14,2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
2 / 3
A woman photographs Bangladeshi Muslim pilgrims as they arrive at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia on July 14,2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
3 / 3
Bangladeshi Muslim pilgrims arrive at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia on July 14,2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2019
0

Saudi Arabia to change immigration process for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims

  • No more waiting in aircraft upon landing
  • Bangladeshis must complete 10-finger biometric registration

DHAKA: Bangladeshi pilgrims performing Hajj will now be able to complete immigration procedures before arriving in Saudi Arabia, rather than wait in the aircraft for hours upon landing in the Kingdom. The change comes following high-level exchanges between the two governments on making things easier for the 127,000 Hajj pilgrims from Bangladesh.
Anisur Rahman, from the Religious Affairs Ministry in Dhaka, said pilgrims would now be able to complete immigration formalities at Bangladesh’s main international airport.
The country’s pilgrims were previously required to wait in the aircraft after landing in Saudi Arabia to complete immigration procedures, sometimes waiting for up to six hours.
While half of the Hajj pilgrims will travel with the national carrier, Bangladesh Biman, the rest will be flown to the Kingdom through special flights arranged by Saudi Airlines.
“Now Bangladeshi pilgrims will be able to enter Saudi Arabia through a jet-bridge after landing at the airport without any formalities,” Rahman told Arab News on Tuesday.
Bangladesh has had discussions with Saudi government representatives during the past two years about immigration procedures for pilgrims, and Religious Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah went to Saudi Arabia to take the matter forward.
Saudi Arabia assured Bangladesh it would accept its request to help pilgrims, Rahman said.
“To finalize the last-minute formalities a high-profile 14-member Saudi delegation, led by the chief of the passport and immigration department, is scheduled to arrive in Bangladesh on Wednesday at 1 a.m. Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah minister and other relevant secretaries will also join the team,” Rahman added.
“We will have the official meeting Wednesday afternoon and the team will visit all the facilities at Dhaka airport and the Hajj camp on Thursday. Everything will be finalized after this visit.”
The Saudi delegation is scheduled to leave Bangladesh on Saturday. Bangladeshis welcomed the easier landing process.
“I performed Hajj in 2015 and it took four hours for me to complete immigration formalities,” 61-year-old Abdul Malek told Arab News. “If we can do the immigration and customs tasks here at Dhaka, it would be a great relief for the Bangladeshi pilgrims.”
Another Bangladeshi pilgrim, 53-year-old Amena Begum, intends to perform Hajj this year and was grateful for the change.
“I have heard about the immigration hassles from others who have performed Hajj before,” she told Arab News. “But I feel lucky to hear the news of having immigration formalities in Dhaka from this year.”
Bangladesh will increase the number of immigration staff at the airport to 60. It is expected that Saudi Arabia will also send the same number of immigration officials to Dhaka during the month-long hajj flight operation.
“The Saudi immigration team will stay in Dhaka for the Hajj flights and we will provide all types of assistance to them,” Rahman said.
But Bangladeshi pilgrims will also have to complete a 10-finger biometric registration process in line with Saudi immigration rules.
Dhaka has set the minimum cost for pilgrims at $4,145 for this year. The maximum cost is fixed at $5,045. The registration process began on Feb. 19.
Bangladesh exports more than $200 million of goods to Saudia Arabia every year. Last month two agreements and four memorandums of understanding were signed to invest in Bangladesh’s power, chemical, biomedical technology and manufacturing sectors. Bangladesh is expecting more than $30 billion in investment from Saudi Arabia.


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 19 April 2019
0

Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.