Bangladesh pilgrims Hajj Saudi Jeddah
Bangladeshi pilgrims who landed in Jeddah on Thursday were covered by the “Mecca Road” initiative, that offers facilities for Hajj pilgrims. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: The first group of Bangladeshi pilgrims, benefiting this year from a Saudi initiative offering Hajj-related facilities for pilgrims from certain countries, arrived in the kingdom ahead of next month’s annual Islamic pilgrimage.

The group landed Thursday at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after having boarded a flight from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Bangladesh, the Saudi news agency SPA reported.

Upon arrival, they were received by Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammad Javed Patwary and several Saudi officials, added SPA. The number of the passengers was not given.

The pilgrims were covered by the “Mecca Road” initiative, that offers facilities for Hajj pilgrims. This year, the facilities are offered at designated terminals in 11 airports in Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Cote d’Ivoire.

In 2018, the Saudi Interior Ministry relaunched the “Mecca Road” that kicked off on a trial basis in 2017.

The initiative aims at offering high-quality transport services to pilgrims of those countries en route to Saudi Arabia. The facilities include issuance of electronic visas at home, finalising passport procedures as well as tagging and sorting out luggage at the departure airports.

On arrival in Saudi Arabia, those pilgrims head directly to their residences in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina while their luggage is delivered to their residences.

Saudi Arabia recently extended applying for Hajj visas for Bangladeshis until May 7 instead of April 29, Saudi news portal Sabq said, citing Bangladeshi reports. Around 4,289 Bangladeshis have registered to attend this year’s Hajj under government arrangements, while 78,895 others have registered through the private sector. Bangladesh’s Hajj quota this year stands at 127,000 pilgrims.

Hajj is one of Islam’s five obligatory duties. Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.