Makkah Route program opens ‘new horizon’ for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims

The number is half the quota Bangladesh received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the coronavirus pandemic, but so is the total of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year. (Supplied)
The number is half the quota Bangladesh received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the coronavirus pandemic, but so is the total of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 July 2022

Makkah Route program opens ‘new horizon’ for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims

Makkah Route program opens ‘new horizon’ for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims
  • Bangladesh is among five Muslim majority countries — including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Morocco — where Saudi Arabia is operating its Makkah Route initiative

DHAKA: Tens of thousands of Hajj pilgrims arriving at Bangladesh’s main international airport for flights to Saudi Arabia are being eased through the immigration process by officials from the Kingdom.

The meet and greet service being laid on at Shah Jalal International Airport in the capital Dhaka is aimed at offering help and advice to worshippers heading for Makkah, while streamlining documentation procedures.

Bangladesh is among five Muslim majority countries — including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Morocco — where Saudi Arabia is operating its Makkah Route initiative.

The program, launched in 2019, is dedicated to Hajj pilgrims, allowing them to fulfill all visa, customs, and health requirements in one place, at the airport of origin, and save long hours of waiting before and upon reaching the Kingdom having had already gone through the process at home.

FASTFACT

60k

Bangladeshi pilgrims will perform the Hajj this year.

“It’s a new thing that opened a new horizon and our heartiest gratefulness to the Saudi authorities,” Dhaka Hajj office director Saiful Islam told Arab News earlier this week.

“Altogether, 60,000 pilgrims will be able to travel from Bangladesh.”

The number is half the quota Bangladesh received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the coronavirus pandemic, but so is the total of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year.

The annual pilgrimage was restricted to only 1,000 people living in Saudi Arabia in 2020 and limited to 60,000 domestic participants in 2021.

As COVID-19 curbs have been lifted this year, Saudi Arabia will welcome 1 million foreign and domestic pilgrims, compared with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million. Those departing from Dhaka airport are being taken care of by 50 Saudi officials working round the clock to facilitate their pre-immigration.

One of them, Mohammed Mozammel Huq, had been dreaming about Hajj since he saw his father embarking on the pilgrimage decades ago. “It was my lifelong dream to perform the Hajj. We are very happy with the Hajj management system,” he said, adding that his journey had so far been “very smooth.”

Businessman Yahia Helal said pilgrims seemed to be satisfied with how their departures had been managed.

“We have completed the immigration formalities in a very easy process,” he told Arab News. “Saudi immigration part is also done in a short span of time.”

Rokeya Khatun Lata, a homemaker, also noted the speed of the process.

“In Makkah Route initiative, it took me less than 30 minutes to complete the immigration process,” she said. “I am feeling very happy from the very outset of the journey.”


No permit for children below 5 years in Grand Mosque of Makkah

No permit for children below 5 years in Grand Mosque of Makkah
Updated 23 min 10 sec ago

No permit for children below 5 years in Grand Mosque of Makkah

No permit for children below 5 years in Grand Mosque of Makkah

RIYADH: Children below five years old can enter the Grand Mosque of Makkah without a permit, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Saturday.

“Parents can take their children who are below five years old without the need to get them a permit,” the ministry said in a Twitter post.

However, children over five years old must obtain a permit through the “Eatmarna” app to enter the holy site.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia announced that holders of all types of visas will be able to perform Umrah during their stay in the Kingdom.


Arab states express solidarity with Saudi Arabia over suicide bomb blast

Arab states express solidarity with Saudi Arabia over suicide bomb blast
Updated 13 August 2022

Arab states express solidarity with Saudi Arabia over suicide bomb blast

Arab states express solidarity with Saudi Arabia over suicide bomb blast
  • Abdullah Al-Shehri detonated a suicide vest when authorities attempted to arrest him in Jeddah, injuring four
  • Arab world praised the Kingdom's effort to maintain security and safeguard lives

DUBAI: Arab nations have expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia on Saturday in the wake of the death of a suicide bomber in Jeddah.

Abdullah Al-Shehri detonated a suicide vest when authorities attempted to arrest him in Jeddah, injuring a Pakistani resident and three security men.

In a statement, the UAE condemned the blast, reiterating its stance against “all threats to the Kingdom’s security and stability.”

The country’s ministry of foreign affairs commended the efficiency of the Saudi security forces during the operation and measures taken to maintain public safety, conveying wishes for a speedy recovery of those injured in the blast.

Bahrain was another Gulf country that reaffirmed “unwavering solidarity” with Saudi Arabia and commended relentless efforts to preserve national security. It also praised the vigilance of security forces in dealing with the wanted man.

Kuwait reiterated its backing to the Kingdom’s effort against security threats. “Kuwait stands by Saudi Arabia and supports all measures it may take to safeguard its security and the safety of its people,” Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement published by state news agency (KUNA).

The ministry lauded the efficient security operation and the authorities’ targeted efforts to block any bid that poses a threat to the Kingdom’s stability.

In a statement published by the state news agency (PETRA), Jordan conveyed support to the Kingdom “in every step taken to protect its security.”
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Haitham Abu Alfoul praised efforts of Saudi security forces in addressing threats to the Kingdom’s stability and safety.

 

 

Egypt also voiced support to Saudi Arabia’s fight against “all forms of terrorism” and any violation that threatens national security.  

In an official statement, the Egyptian foreign ministry hailed the Kingdom’s proactive measures and capabilities to track down terrorists and safeguard lives.  

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the bombing and praised the Kingdom’s firm action against any threat that undermines its safety and security.

Meanwhile, Arab Parliament Speaker Adel Al-Asoumi stressed on his confidence in the Kingdom’s vigilance to protect its vital facilities, combat terrorism, and ensure the safety of its citizens and expats.

On Friday, the Saudi security state announced the operation of tracking down and arresting Al-Shehri, who was among nine wanted individuals involved in a 2015 terrorist operation that targeted a mosque in Saudi Arabia. He has been listed as a wanted person by authorities in the Kingdom for the past seven years, according to the statement.


Saudi authorities arrest resident with 50kgs of hashish in Asir’s Rijal Alma’a

Saudi authorities arrest resident with 50kgs of hashish in Asir’s Rijal Alma’a
Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi authorities arrest resident with 50kgs of hashish in Asir’s Rijal Alma’a

Saudi authorities arrest resident with 50kgs of hashish in Asir’s Rijal Alma’a
  • The Yemeni resident had hidden the narcotics in the vehicle he was driving when authorities discovered drugs, according to SPA

Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested a resident who was in possession of 50 kilograms of hashish in the Rijal Alma’a governorate in the Asir region, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday. 

The Yemeni resident had hidden the narcotics in the vehicle he was driving when authorities discovered drugs, according to SPA. 

Saudi Arabia will continue on attempts to import and export drugs to preserve public security and protection, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority said in a statement on Friday, after more than one million contraband pills were found hidden in a consignment that came into the Kingdom through the port of Jeddah.

The authority called on citizens and residents to report any smuggling-related crimes and violations of the provisions of the unified customs system in complete secrecy.


Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance
Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance
  • The Visit Saudi platform provides e-services, including the issuance of electronic visas and purchasing of Umrah bundles. The service is available at visitsaudi.com/ar.
  • Move targets Vision 2030 goal of 30m pilgrims per year

JEDDAH: All Saudi visa holders are now permitted to perform Umrah in the wake of a decision by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The move aims to ease bureaucracy and open the pilgrimage to more visitors — a target of Vision 2030.

It comes in conjunction with the start of this year’s Umrah season and as part of efforts to facilitate rituals, provide high-quality services and enrich the religious experiences of pilgrims.

The Maqam platform connects pilgrims with authorized tourism companies and agencies. Users from outside the Kingdom can also apply for an Umrah visa, as well as choose service bundles. The platform is available at maqam.gds.haj.gov.sa.

The Visit Saudi platform provides e-services, including the issuance of electronic visas and purchasing of Umrah bundles. The service is available at visitsaudi.com/ar.

Holders of on-arrival visas, among countries eligible for electronic visas, as well as US, UK and Schengen visa holders, can carry out Umrah rituals with ease, provided that the visas are used for one time only and carry the issuing country’s seal.

Family visit and personal visit visa holders can also perform the pilgrimage by booking an appointment through the Eatmarna application during their visits to relatives and friends in the Kingdom, and by applying to the Unified National Visa Platform.

To carry out Umrah rituals, visitors must have comprehensive medical insurance that covers — among other things — the treatment costs of COVID-19, personal incidents resulting in death and disability, and flight delays or cancellations.


Saudi FM holds talks with Maltese counterpart on bilateral relations

Saudi FM holds talks with Maltese counterpart on bilateral relations
Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi FM holds talks with Maltese counterpart on bilateral relations

Saudi FM holds talks with Maltese counterpart on bilateral relations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with his Maltese counterpart Ian Borg during his visit to Malta.
The two ministers held a session of talks, during which they reviewed aspects of relations between the Kingdom and Malta and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields, in addition to discussing the most prominent issues of common interest.
The meeting and the talks were attended by the Deputy to Italy, Faisal bin Hanif Al-Qahtani, and the director-general of the Office of the foreign minister’s Abdul Rahman Al-Daoud.