First batch of Pakistani Hajj pilgrims who arrived under the Mecca Route initiative on May 21. Image Credit: Pakistan Ministry of Religious Affairs

Dubai: The Mecca Route initiative has facilitated the journey of 68,721 pilgrims until Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Interior.

The Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with its partners, is proceeding with the Mecca Route initiative as part of Saudi Arabia’s Pilgrim Experience Programme, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 programmes.

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This year, Mecca initiative is being rolled out in a number of countries including Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and, marking a first, in Turkey and Ivory Coast.

The pilgrims, arriving via 189 flights, touched down at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina.

With a focus on increasing efficiency and convenience, the initiative enables pilgrims to complete the necessary travel procedures within their own countries.

This includes the electronic issuance of visas, recording of vital characteristics, completion of passport procedures at the country of departure, meeting health requirements, and meticulous handling of luggage according to transportation and accommodation arrangements in the Kingdom.

The Mecca Route initiative not only simplifies the pilgrimage process but also reinforces Saudi Arabia’s commitment to enhancing the Hajj experience as part of its Vision 2030 strategy.

Largest operational plan

The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs on Thursday launched the largest operational plan for the upcoming Hajj season.

Aimed at facilitating Hajj 1444AH in line with Saudi Vision 2030, the plan takes into account several key aspects related to the presidency’s strategic objectives.

“This year’s operational plan for Hajj is the largest in the history of the presidency, made possible after the cessation of the pandemic and the declaration of the return of millions of Hajj pilgrims through an elaborate service system established by our wise leadership,” said Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz Al Sudais, Head of the presidency, at a media forum.

The announcement was made by Al Sudais accompanied by the Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah.

8,000 volunteering opportunities

The initiative builds upon the remarkable successes and enduring accomplishments set forth by the directives of the government.

Dr. Al Sudais also highlighted the significant strides made in volunteering and humanitarian efforts, with the Presidency having provided over 8,000 volunteering opportunities across ten fields at the two Holy Mosques. This resulted in more than 200,000 volunteer hours being clocked during the Hajj season.

Underscoring the guiding role of the two Holy Mosques, Al Sudais noted that the presidency provides translation services, spatial guidance, and information to the pilgrims in 51 international languages across 49 stations, aimed at enhancing the pilgrim experience.

In his address during the unveiling of the operational plan, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Tawfiq Al Rabiah, discussed the importance of integration and coordination between the Ministry of Hajj and the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Holy Mosque and the Prophet’s Holy Mosque.

He emphasized their collective role in serving the pilgrims, especially with their numbers returning to millions, and in ensuring they can perform their rituals with comfort and tranquility.