Hajj pilgrims perform the Farewell Tawaf
Hajj pilgrims perform the farewell Tawaf. Image Credit: SPA/Twitter

Dubai: The Ministry of Interior in Saudi Arabia announced the expansion of the “Mecca Route” initiative to include Turkey and the Ivory Coast this year.

This extension brings the total number of countries served by the initiative to seven, alongside Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh since its inception in 2019.

The “Mecca Route” initiative aims to streamline the arrival and processing of pilgrims from their respective countries. It starts with issuing visas electronically, collecting biometric data, and then proceeding with complete passport procedures at the departing country’s airport, given that health requirements are met.

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The comprehensive initiative also includes coding and sorting pilgrims’ luggage for delivery to their accommodations in the Kingdom. Upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia, the pilgrims can proceed directly to buses that will transport them to their residences in Mecca and Medina via designated routes. The service authorities will ensure that their luggage reaches their residences.

This strategic initiative is carried out in collaboration with several bodies, including the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Hajj and Umrah, the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), “Doyof (Guests) Al Rahman Program” - a key component of the Saudi Vision 2030, and the General Directorate of Passports.