RIYADH: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has launched an exhibition introducing pilgrims to Saudi culture, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The exhibition can accommodate 1,000 people at a time and features a market area with 12 stores showcasing gifts reflecting Saudi heritage. Saudi children dressed in traditional clothes greet visitors and there are food stalls, run by home cooks and specialists, so that people can sample local dishes.
The exhibition also houses practical facilities such as a clinic, a relaxation area and a prayer room.
Visitors can learn about the services provided by the Kingdom to ensure pilgrims’ comfort and security, as well as the expansion projects at the Two Holy Mosques, through images explaining these developments. A theater area, accommodating around 50 pilgrims, features a presentation about the Kingdom.
The exhibition falls under GACA’s Eyab initiative, which seeks to enrich pilgrims’ experiences at the Kingdom’s airports. It is expected to benefit 30,000 pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.
GACA started a trial run of Eyab this year, targeting pilgrims returning to Indonesia, India and Malaysia through Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport and Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Airport.
A key part of the Eyab initiative is streamlining people’s exit from Saudi Arabia, no mean feat given that the majority of this year’s 2.5 million Hajj pilgrims arrived by air.
Steps to accomplish this goal include registering pilgrims’ departure before they get to the airport, making it easier for their luggage to be picked up at their accommodation and reducing wait times at airports.
Earlier this month, GACA President Abdulhadi Al-Mansouri said that the Eyab service would be extended to cover all nationalities, all pilgrims including those performing Umrah, and travelers throughout the Kingdom’s airports.