Makkah, Saudi Arabia, 29 May 2019 - Under the auspices of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and with the follow-up of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia officially launched on Tuesday the “Enriching Hajj & Umrah Experience” programme, one of the most important Vision 2030 programmes.
With the ambitious objective of reaching 30 million Umrah visitors annually by 2030, the programme’s mission is to achieve a quantum leap in every service provided to visitors of Saudi Arabia, whether coming for Hajj, Umrah, or simply to experience the unparalleled Islamic and national heritage in the Kingdom. The programme’s strategy is to provide “Spiritual fulfilment and memorable experience, at the fingertips of all Muslims globally”.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes its responsibility of hosting the two holiest sites for all Muslims with the utmost care and devotion. Everyone in the Kingdom considers it an honour to serve our visitors,” said Dr Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, Chairman of the programme’s committee.
“With this huge responsibility, during the strategy planning phase, we left no stone unturned to gain an in-depth understanding of all our current challenges,” Dr Benten said. “This included field investigations of more than 192 touchpoints for our visitors, capacity modelling for the urban infrastructure, and the largest primary customer survey done in this sector, reaching out in-person to more than 20,000 people in 135 cities in more than 20 countries around the world to understand their needs, wants, and current challenges in visiting the Kingdom.”
The programme’s strategic initiatives actually start at the doorsteps of Saudi Arabia’s visitors: streamlining and introducing a complete e-visa process that begins and ends for them in the comfort of their own homes. The “Enriching Hajj & Umrah Experience” programme is also working on a comprehensive online platform that acts as a one-stop shop for everything a visitor might need: from learning about the Kingdom’s rich Islamic heritage to booking every aspect of their trip.
The programme has a complete set of initiatives that are dedicated to enriching the experience of all visitors, through preserving and developing more than 40 Islamic and historical heritage locations. This will involve creating cutting-edge immersive experiences, where visitors get to relive some of the most iconic events in the history of Islam, such as the pilgrimage path of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), and “Ghar Hira’a” where the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) used to meditate and reflect. The initiatives also include museums spread throughout the visitor’s journey that showcase the Kingdom’s rich Islamic and cultural heritage, tailored to every language and age.
Once visitors land in Saudi Arabia, they will be treated to a world-class experience in transportation, due to huge infrastructure investments over the past decade, boasting a new airport in the port city of Jeddah that can serve 30 million people annually, and the new Haramain High Speed Railway that operates between the airport and the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, shortening the commute by half: 40 minutes to Makkah and 2.5 hours to Madinah.
These two mega projects are complemented with a set of more than 130 initiatives that ensure complete ease of travel: A new dedicated highway for visitors between Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport and Makkah, a new public transit system in Makkah, and a city terminal that enables check-in’s in Makkah and baggageless travel for visitors until they get to the airport.
The digital team is also working with multiple entities in Saudi Arabia to introduce the latest technologies available for crowd management and wayfinding. Predictive technologies will enable the creation of the safest and smoothest possible experiences for visitors.
“The programme’s strategy is a reflection of the transformation that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and HRH the Crown Prince have envisioned for this country. We are proud to be at the forefront of this transformation,” said Dr Rami Kinsara, Director General of the “Enriching Hajj & Umrah Experience” programme.