The Mecca Road Initiative launched on Monday at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia as part of Saudi Arabia’s mission to facilitate pilgrims’ journey to the Kingdom, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs is implementing measures to facilitate the Hajj for pilgrims from Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Tunisia as part of the Mecca Road Initiative. The initiative eases pilgrims’ journey by granting e-Hajj visas and finalizing pilgrims’ entry procedures before they arrive in the Kingdom.
The ministry has been coordinating with international government agencies to finalize pilgrims’ entry procedures from their countries’ departure ports, said Ibrahim bin Abdulwahab al-Gharib, the director general of the information department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The service offers immigration pre-clearance for pilgrims at their points of embarkation and is available in six languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian, Mandarin and Persian.
Last year, Saudi Arabia launched the Mecca Road Initiative for the first time in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The pilgrims who arrive under the Mecca Road Initiative have their fingerprints taken and passports stamped in the country of departure. Their entry into Saudi Arabia is then processed like a domestic flight and their baggage is sent to their places of residence through the Ministry of Hajj.
The Saudi ambassador to Indonesia said the implementation of the Mecca Road Initiative for the second consecutive year confirms “the successful cooperation between the two countries to facilitate Indonesian pilgrims’ journey,” according to SPA.
More than 225,000 pilgrims from Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia are expected to make use of the initiative in this year’s Hajj season.