What is Saudi Arabia's Makkah Route and how is it helping Hajj pilgrims?

Those from Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco and Bangladesh will benefit from the progamme, which is aimed at easing travel procedures

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Saudi Arabia's Makkah Route, a government programme to help Hajj pilgrims from seven countries with visa, customs and passport issues, is up and running.

It has been expanded to Turkey and Ivory Coast this year, the Ministry of Interior announced.

The initiative, launched in 2019, will now serve pilgrims in seven countries including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco and Bangladesh.

What is the Makkah Route initiative?

The Makkah Route initiative was launched in several countries in 2018 when the Saudi authorities began to put measures in place to ease travel procedures for pilgrims from abroad.

The service was introduced first in Malaysia and Indonesia, two of the countries with the largest proportion of Hajj pilgrims every year.

What does the service offer?

The service includes the issuance of visas, customs and passport procedures, dealing with health requirements, as well as sorting luggage according to transportation and housing arrangements in Saudi Arabia. All services are handled from the Hajj pilgrims’ point of departure in their home country or country of residence.

These pre-departure services will not only ease the arrival of pilgrims in the kingdom, but will also allow them to go directly to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah without having to deal with time-consuming procedures.

Luggage is taken directly to the pilgrims’ accommodation.

Which ministries and agencies are involved?

Several government agencies in Saudi Arabia are involved in providing the pre-departure and arrival services for pilgrims.

These include the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, the Pilgrim Experience Programme, the General Directorate of Passports and the Elm Company.

Which countries are involved in the Makkah Route this year?

Pakistan, Turkey, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco and Bangladesh.

How many foreign pilgrims have arrived so far?

Since the beginning of the pre-Hajj season, the Saudi authorities said Madinah recorded the arrival of about 19,000 pilgrims.

The number of arrivals on Wednesday reached 7,494. The countries that have sent the highest number of pilgrims so far are Indonesia with 8,276, India with 4,364, Pakistan with 3,315, Malaysia with 1,708 and Turkey with 1,071.

Are the procedures different for Hajj pilgrims coming from the West?

Saudi Arabia confirmed it has opened a separate online registration system for pilgrims arriving from the US, Europe and Australia for this year's pilgrimage.

Pilgrims will have to register directly at www.motawif.com.sa where they can access different travel packages and information.

How many foreign pilgrims are expected to attend and what are the travel requirements amid Covid-19?

For the past two years, pilgrims from abroad were barred from attending Hajj because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, as travel restrictions and anti-Covid measures are slowly lifted across the world, Saudi Arabia said it will welcome up to a million pilgrims from abroad.

All Hajj pilgrims this year must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and be under 65 years of age. They must also present a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their departure flight.

Updated: May 22, 2023, 10:25 AM