Islamic Lifestyle 

More than 54,000 haj pilgrims arrive in Saudi via fast-track immigration clearance

| 16 July, 2019
More than 54,000 haj pilgrims arrive in Saudi via fast-track immigration clearance
Photo: Indonesian haj pilgrims walk towards their flight at the airport in Solo, Central Java province, Indonesia September 17, 2015, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho/Antara Foto

54,453 haj pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia in the first half of July on the ‘Makkah Road’ fast-track immigration clearance programme, reported state news agency SPA on Monday.

The pilgrims arrived on 135 flights from participating countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia from the first to the eleventh of the Islamic month of Dhu Al-Qidah, which is equivalent to the fourth to the fourteenth of July.

‘Makkah Road’ refers to the programme that allows haj pilgrims to clear immigration procedures in their own country’s departure points, bypassing them upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. These procedures include issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage.

SPA reported Saudi directorate general of passports as saying that 34,192 pilgrims flew into Medina on 57 flights and 20,261 into Jeddah on 50.

Makkah Road started operating during the 2018 haj season. It currently targets countries with the largest number of haj pilgrims. Indonesia, the country with the world’s biggest Muslim population, will send around 230,000 pilgrims this year. The quota of haj pilgrims per country is based on 0.1 percent of its Muslim population.

The haj is expected to begin on August 9 this year.

Last year 2,371,675 pilgrims performed the haj, around 75 percent of whom arrived from outside Saudi Arabia. 

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