DHAKA: Bangladeshi pilgrims departing for Hajj are grateful for Makkah Route facilities, which they say streamline the immigration process and remove the burdens of traveling abroad.
More than 125,000 Bangladeshis are traveling to Saudi Arabia this year for the pilgrimage that is one of the five pillars of Islam. Most are departing from the capital, Dhaka, and are assisted by Saudi authorities, who have been working round-the-clock since last week, when the special Hajj flights started under the Makkah Route initiative.
The flagship pre-travel program was launched by the Kingdom in 2019 to help pilgrims fulfill all the visa, customs and health requirements at their airport of origin, saving them long hours of waiting before and on arrival in Saudi Arabia.
“All the pilgrims are boarding their planes with comfort and smiles. This initiative is being highly praised by the people at home and abroad,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj Office Dhaka, told Arab News.
“The pilgrims are enjoying the journey like a domestic flight. After landing in the Kingdom, they just board a bus and reach their hotel.”
Some of those who have already reached Saudi Arabia to perform the pilgrimage this year are amazed how smooth traveling is under the Makkah Route program.
“All my immigration formalities were completed at Dhaka airport before taking the fight to the holy land. It took only one minute to get the things done,” Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain, 63, told Arab News as he arrived in Jeddah.
“To me, it’s like a blessing. It was unimaginable even a couple of years back. My heartfelt thanks to the Saudi authorities for offering us this beautiful opportunity.”
Mohammed Solaiman, 59, said he did not have to worry about anything and could focus on the spiritual dimensions of the pilgrimage.
“Everyone from the pre-immigration at Dhaka airport and here in the Kingdom was so cordial and always helpful,” he said.
“I can imagine how difficult a task it is to manage thousands of pilgrims from around the world. Hundreds of people are working round-the-clock to take care of the pilgrims. I am grateful to the Kingdom’s authorities for offering us these beautiful services.”
The hospitality the pilgrims receive even before arriving in Saudi Arabia is appreciated by all.
Latifa Begum, 56, told Arab News that she was initially worried how she would communicate, as her English was not good, but that ended up being no problem at all as all officers were kind and accommodating.
“Since landing in the Kingdom, everyone has treated us like distinguished guests,” she said.
“There is nothing that could be better than this. I pray from the bottom of my heart for the well-being of the Kingdom’s authorities who offered us such a smooth journey.”