Malaysia is grateful for being part of Saudi Arabia’s flagship Makkah Route initiative, the chief of its Hajj operations has told Arab News, with the last batch of pilgrims set to depart from Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
Malaysia is among seven Muslim-majority countries — alongside Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkey and Cote d’Ivoire — where Saudi Arabia opened its Makkah Route initiative.
“We are deeply grateful to Saudi Arabia for continuing the initiative in Malaysia for the fifth year. The Makkah Route initiative has indeed helped ease the journey of our hajj pilgrims significantly,” said Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman, executive of Tabung Haji — Malaysia’s Hajj board — and head of the Malaysian Hajj delegation.
“The Makkah Route initiative has proven to be very smooth, effective and helpful for Malaysian pilgrims. This could not have been done without the assistance rendered by various parties especially the Saudi Arabian government and its relevant government agencies.”
The program, launched in 2019, is dedicated to Hajj pilgrims, allowing them to fulfill all visa, customs and health requirements at the airport of origin, saving long hours of waiting. Upon arrival, pilgrims can enter the Kingdom without waiting, having already gone through visa and customs processes back home.
This year, 31,600 Malaysians are participating in the annual pilgrimage that is one of the five pillars of Islam. Most of them have already reached the Kingdom.
Rahman said they “admired and praised” Saudi efforts, which had “provided tremendous convenience” for the pilgrims, especially the elderly who, without the Makkah Route, would have spent long hours on immigration procedures at home and upon arrival.
When Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah saw off the first batch of pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia via the initiative earlier this month, he expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s Hajj services and assistance.
“We hope that the close relationship that has been established for a long time between Malaysia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue to serve the pilgrims,” the king said.
The special Hajj flights under the Makkah Route initiative will conclude in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
“The first phase of Hajj operations involving departure flights is almost completed and will end on June 21, 2023,” Rahman said.
“All praise to Allah, everything is progressing according to plan and the Hajj operation has been smooth.”
Source : Arab News