Hajj Pilgrims Makkah
Pilgrims have started arriving for the annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The first Hajj pilgrims from Malaysia and Bangladesh arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday under the auspices of the Mecca Route initiative.

The Malaysian contingent landed on Sunday morning at Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina. They commenced their journey from the Mecca Route initiative’s hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Maj. Gen. Talal Al Dabbasi, Director of Passports in Medina region, and Mohammed Al Bejawi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Visit Affairs in Medina, greeted the pilgrims upon arrival.

Later in the day, the first batch of Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Their journey had originated from the initiative’s hall at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The pilgrims were warmly received with roses by a delegation of security and government leaders.

Over 27 government agencies collaborated under the Mecca Road initiative to welcome the Bangladeshi pilgrims.

The Ministry of Interior expanded the Mecca Route initiative this year to include Turkey and the Ivory Coast. With this expansion, the initiative now covers seven countries: Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Ivory Coast. The initiative was launched in 2019.

Part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 programme, the Mecca Route initiative aims to streamline the pilgrims’ procedures from their home countries. The process begins with the issuance of an electronic visa, collection of vital characteristics, completion of passport procedures at the departure airport, and verification of the necessary health requirements.

A unique feature of the initiative is the coding and sorting of luggage according to transportation and housing arrangements in Saudi Arabia. On arrival, pilgrims are directly transported via buses to their accommodations in Mecca and Medina. Meanwhile, their luggage is delivered to their respective residences by service agencies, ensuring a smooth and seamless experience for the pilgrims.