All Malaysian, and some Indonesian, pilgrims will benefit from immigration pre-clearance at their embarkation points for Hajj 2018
The service will be implemented in other countries in coming years
The Kingdom is already receiving pilgrims from some Asian countries
RIYADH, July 15, 2018 – Saudi Arabia has officially launched the ‘Makkah Route’ initiative in Malaysia, allowing the Asian country’s pilgrims to benefit from immigration pre-clearance and other services that will facilitate their journey to perform the Islamic pilgrimage.
Saudi and Malaysian officials attended the launch of the initiative at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where they witnessed the departure of the first two flights of pilgrims, who completed their entry procedures for the Kingdom before leaving their home country.
The Hajj 2018 season is underway as the Kingdom is already receiving pilgrims from some Asian countries. A number of flights carrying pilgrims from Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan have already arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. According to Saudi officials, it took only 15 minutes to process the entry of one group of 500 pilgrims.
The Hajj pilgrimage officially begins on the 8th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah and ends on the thirteenth day of the same Islamic month, which this year corresponds to August 19-24. More than 2.35 million pilgrims travelled to Makkah for Hajj in 2017, about 1.75 million of whom came from outside the Kingdom.
Makkah Route – which allows pilgrims to benefit from immigration pre-clearance – is one of the initiatives of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 that is being implemented as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 to improve services for pilgrims and to facilitate their performance of Hajj. The process is under the supervision of an integrated Saudi team headed by the Ministry of Interior.
Makkah Route Facts and Figures
The Makkah Route service was partially implemented during the last Hajj season in 1438H (2017), processing some Malaysian pilgrims, and will apply to all Malaysian pilgrims in the current year 1439H (2018). This year, some Indonesian pilgrims will benefit from the new procedures this year, as the ‘Makkah Route’ service will also be available at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.
The decision to initiate the service in Malaysia and Indonesia was prompted by the large numbers of pilgrims coming from these two countries. The service will be expanded to cover pilgrims from additional countries in coming years, according to Saudi officials.
The initiative includes issuance of visas, completion of customs and passport procedures, ensuring compliance with health requirements, as well as sorting luggage according to transportation and housing arrangements in Saudi Arabia. Completing these procedures before departure hugely facilitates the pilgrims’ entry into the Kingdom, allowing them to head directly to their accommodations in Makkah and Madinah without dealing with time-consuming entry procedures. Luggage is handled by service agencies that transport baggage directly to the visitors’ places of residence.
The ceremony launching the initiative was held at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and attended by Malaysian authorities, including Dr. Mujahid Yusuf, Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office for Islamic Affairs; Dato Sri / Mustafa Ali, Director General of the Malaysian Immigration Department; and Dato Sri / Zukri Samat, Chief Executive of the Office of Malaysia Pilgrims Affairs.
Attending from Saudi Arabia were Major General Sulaiman Al Yahya, the Director General of Passports; His Excellency Mahmoud bin Hussein Qattan, the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Malaysia; and members of the supervisory committee of the relevant bodies providing services to pilgrims in the Kingdom, which include the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, General Authority of Civil Aviation, Saudi Customs, and the National Information Center.
Officials attending the launch celebration received an in-depth briefing on how the service is organised at the airport and how procedures are being implemented on the Malaysian and Saudi sides. They also met with the first Malaysian pilgrims to utilize the new services and got their feedback on the new system.
His Excellency Ambassador Mahmoud Qattan praised the Saudi government’s efforts to serve the pilgrims through the Makkah Route Initiative and lauded the cooperation of the Malaysian authorities for facilitating the work of the team at Kuala Lumpur Airport. He said that all Malaysian pilgrims participating in the 1439 AH (2018) Hajj season will be processed through the Makkah Route Initiative.
The head of the Saudi delegation, Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Al Yahya, couched the departure of the first two flights from Kuala Lumpur under the Makkah Route Initiative as a function of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The directives are to serve pilgrims in line with NTP 2020 and Vision 2030 under the direct supervision of the Minister of Interior, who heads the Supreme Hajj Committee.
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Hussein Al-Sharif, said the ministry has prepared all necessary facilities for hosting this year’s pilgrims. He said that all preparations for the Makkah Route Initiative have been completed and the Kingdom is ready to receive pilgrims from Malaysia and Indonesia.