Why the road to Makkah is an investment highway

Time: August 17, 2019  

Performing Hajj with my family, I realized what a spiritual and cleansing experience it was to be among more than 2.5 million pilgrims wearing simple clothing, saying similar dua’a and performing identical rituals. Since we have already reached this figure during 2019, I expect we may reach the targeted 6 million pilgrims before 2030.
This important pillar is a sector where investment opportunities are limitless.
From transportation to accommodation, there are major investment opportunities to complete the value chain to the billion-plus Muslims around the globe.
This time, I saw and experienced the Kingdom’s major expansion and enhancement to the Grand Mosque and the holy sites.
The train system has been reinforced to improve access, and help pilgrims perform their visits with greater ease and convenience.
This is one of the promising areas for investment for international companies.
I am sure further enhancement and improvements will be needed as the number of pilgrims grows.
The hospitality sector is another sector for investment, especially for the local private sector. Although my own experience was satisfactory, a lot of improvements are required to enhance the accommodation facilities in the holy sites, and the private sector can be part of this.
It is clear that continual development of the Hajj and Umrah organizations and services in the Kingdom is among the top priorities of the Saudi government.
The Kingdom’s economic blueprint for 2030 includes plans to further improve the quality of services offered to visitors embarking on Hajj and Umrah.
This challenging target will require the public and private sectors to facilitate and implement investments in sectors including construction, transportation, information technology, accommodation and catering worth more than $50 billion.
Finally, there is a great opportunity for local and international investors seeking to be involved in the government’s plans to turn Makkah into a smart city. This will require major investments by IT companies.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Saudi leadership’s management of the Hajj season.
To mobilize such a large number of people who speak different languages requires a high degree of coordination and supervision around the clock, not to mention billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure. And to manage the targeted 6 million pilgrims in 10 years, or even less, local and international companies will find limitless investment opportunities in order to maintain this legacy of smooth management of the Hajj season, ensuring the safety, comfort and happiness of pilgrims.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

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Indonesia hopes for more airport Hajj clearance next year

25/07/19

Indonesian pilgrims arrive at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. (File/SPA)
  • ndonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province
  • About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period

JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes fast tracking for its Hajj pilgrims, known as the “Makkah Road” initiative, will be expanded to at least two more airports in Java next year, which serve as embarkation points from the country’s most populated island and its neighbors, a government official said Thursday.
Indonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province, which serves pilgrims from Lampung, West Java and Banten provinces as well as Jakarta.
About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period.
Last year, fast tracking processed 30 percent of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
“Even though it was introduced last year, the service is still only available in Soekarno Hatta Airport. To be able to provide it in other airports would depend on the availability of Saudi immigration officials and whether the other airports have the infrastructure to support it,” Ramadhan Harisman, the secretary of religious affair’s directorate general for Hajj and Umrah services, told Arab News.
He said Indonesia hoped to eventually fast-track Hajj immigration clearance services at all 13 airports that ran routes to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
“Next year we hope to be able to have the fast-track clearance in Surabaya and Solo. The two airports there are also among the busiest, serving a huge number of pilgrims” Harisman said.
“The two airports are ready, we just need to finalize it with Saudi officials,” he added.
The Surabaya Airport will this year serve 38,150 pilgrims from East Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, while Solo airport will serve 34,171 pilgrims from Central Java and Yogyakarta.
If the fast-track clearance is provided in the two airports in addition to Jakarta, the service would be able to process up to 140,000 pilgrims or more than 60 percent out of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
Indonesia is sending the largest number of Hajj pilgrims this year after it received an increase in its Hajj quota to 231,000 pilgrims.
Harisman said the number of pilgrims that have departed as per 25 July is 134,648 and the last departure is scheduled to take place on August 5. At least 17 have died during the pilgrimage, including a man from from Indramayu, West Java, who died on the plane just two hours before it arrived in King Abdul Aziz airport earlier this week.

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First group of Tunisian pilgrims arrive via Makkah Route initiative

25/07/19

The first Makkah Route initiative’s Hajj flight from Tunisia arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort.
(Photo courtesy: SPA)

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First group of Tunisian pilgrims arrive via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 25, 2019  

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The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort. (SPA)
  • The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims

MADINAH: The first Makkah Route initiative’s Hajj flight from Tunisia arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort.

Sami Al-Saidi, Tunisia’s consul general to Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom presents a new service every year to facilitate the journey of pilgrims coming from all over the world.

He thanked the Saudi government for all the services and facilities being provided for pilgrims.

The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims passing through airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia.

The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in pilgrims’ own countries.

This enables them to bypass procedures on arrival in the Kingdom, and to head directly to buses waiting to transport them to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.

Service authorities deliver pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation in the holy cities.

So far, 479,917 pilgrims have arrived in Madinah since the start of the current Hajj season, according to statistics issued by the National Guides Foundation. The data showed that 279,700 pilgrims left Madinah for Makkah, while 200,192 remained in Madinah.

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Indonesian Hajj pilgrims arrive in Jeddah

Time: July 22, 2019  

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Indonesian Hajj pilgrims arriving in Jeddah. (SPA)

 

JEDDAH: The second phase of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims started landing in Jeddah with the arrival of a 455-strong contingent from Makasar’s Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in South Sulawesi.
The pilgrims were received by Indonesian Deputy Chief of Mission to Saudi Arabia Dicky Yunus and Indonesian Consul General Mohamad Hery Saripudin at King Abdul Aziz International Airport on Saturday.
A ceremony was organized to welcome the pilgrims landing in Jeddah, where they were served an Indonesian breakfast.
As many as 529 Garuda Indonesia and Saudia flights are transporting the pilgrims, 296 of which are carrying a total of 120,500 passengers to Jeddah during the period July 20 to Aug. 6.
More than 800 Hajj personnel and officers from Indonesia Religious Affairs Ministry and 308 health-care professionals from Health Ministry have been deployed to assist the pilgrims.
About 231,000 Indonesian pilgrims are expected to perform Hajj this year, including the additional quota 10,000 granted by King Salman.
The increasing quota of the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims will hopefully cut the waiting list, which is currently 40 years long.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Minister of Transport Budi Karya Sumadi visited the special lounge of Makkah Route initiative for Indonesian pilgrims at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.
The minister was briefed on the process and procedures of Makkah Route initiative. He expressed his admiration for the initiative and extended thanks and gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its efforts to serve Islam, Muslims, and pilgrims.

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Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

Time: July 21, 2019  

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The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, focusing on the overall health status of each visitor. (SPA)
  • 257,981 pilgrims benefited from the “preventive services” since the new initiative’s launch

RIYADH: One of the services provided by the Makkah Route initiative, which aims to smooth the Hajj journey of pilgrims and provide top-quality service, is to ensure that all health requirements are met.

The Communication, Relations and Health Awareness General Department of the Ministry of Health is implementing the initiative in two ways.

The first is to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa (Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Tunisia).

The second is to check that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

“Preventive measures” mean, for example, providing polio vaccines for pilgrims. The vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is provided through the Pakistani health authorities at the departure area of the airport.

“The ministry is also deploying a team of five people qualified to supervise the application of health requirements and assess the vaccination procedure and the application of preventive measures,” the department added.


HIGHLIGHTS

The Makkah Route initiative aims to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa.

The initiative also ensures that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals.

The teams include 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.


The ministry’s procedures in the departure hall include prepping emergency clinics at the points where Makkah Route pilgrims are received.

These clinics deal with urgent cases, prepare awareness information for pilgrims and coordinate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation regarding their distribution on the targeted airlines.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals, including 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of health practitioners assigned to the service of pilgrims during Hajj “is more than 30,000.”

The ministry encourages volunteering during the Hajj season; it believes that it is a very important and noble service toward fellow citizens, nations and the religion, where Islam highly encourages volunteering and serving others.

The ministry is coordinating the major institutions and commissions via its Hajj volunteering link to register volunteers so that they can participate through the societal partnership program.

The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, keeping an eye on the overall health situation and reporting any suspicious infectious diseases.

The ministry monitors all the health institutions and medical missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices to make sure the health requirements are being properly applied, to ensure pilgrims’ safety and guarantee an environment free of infectious diseases.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that so far that there has been no incidence of any epidemic diseases or quarantine cases recorded among pilgrims, who arrived and the health situation is reassuring.

Since the first of Dul Qaada, the ministry has provided preventive services, via access points, to 257,981 pilgrims, with a total rate of commitment to vaccination reached  87.4 percent for meningitis, 67.3 percent for yellow fever and 95.3 percent for polio.

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Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 15, 2019  

Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Saudi Arabia aboard 90 flights between July 4 and July 11 as part of the Makkah Route initiative, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports announced this week.
“33 flights carrying 13,317 pilgrims arrived through Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport, while 57 flights carrying 23,427 pilgrims arrived through Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport,” the directorate said, as 36,744 Hajj pilgrims were recorded arriving in the Kingdom during the period.

(Photo courtesy: SPA)

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Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 14, 2019  

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Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Saudi Arabia aboard 90 flights between July 4 and July 11 as part of the Makkah Route initiative. (SPA)
  • The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims coming from airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia
  • The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries

RIYADH: Nearly 37,000 Hajj pilgrims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia arrived in Saudi Arabia aboard 90 flights between July 4 and July 11 as part of the Makkah Route initiative, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports announced this week.
“33 flights carrying 13,317 pilgrims arrived through Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport, while 57 flights carrying 23,427 pilgrims arrived through Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport,” the directorate said, as 36,744 Hajj pilgrims were recorded arriving in the Kingdom during the period.
Pilgrims received a warm welcome from all bodies taking part in the initiative from the moment they left their countries to the moment they arrived at their residences in either Makkah or Madinah, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims coming from airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia.
The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries.
This enables them to bypass procedures on arrival in the Kingdom and to head directly to buses waiting to transport them to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.
Service authorities deliver pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation in the holy cities.
The initiative aims to provide the best service possible for pilgrims by completing their entry into the Kingdom from airports in their countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs grants beneficiaries of the initiative e-Hajj visas after inserting pilgrims’ data in the electronic tracking of Hajj visas.

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Emir of Makkah region checks on ‘Makkah Route’ initiative at King Abdulaziz Airport

10/07/19

The Emir of Makkah region visited the Hajj and Umrah halls at the King Abdulaziz International Airport on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming pilgrimage season. (SPA)
  • Prince Badr Bin Sultan started his tour by visiting the Makkah Route initiative hall
  • The Makkah Route initiative was recently implemented at airports in Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur

MAKKAH: The Emir of Makkah region visited the Hajj and Umrah halls at the King Abdulaziz International Airport on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming pilgrimage season.
Prince Badr Bin Sultan started his tour by visiting the Makkah Route initiative hall at the airport, which is aimed at providing help for pilgrims, a statement on the Saudi Press Agency said.
The emir checked operational plans at the complex and other facilities intended to offer a pilgrim an easy trip from their own countries and on to Makkah.

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The Makkah Route initiative was recently implemented at airports in Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur, and also began with its first flight from Indonesia.
The Saudi ambassador to Indonesia said that the implementation of the Makkah Route initiative in Indonesia for the second year confirms the success of cooperation between the two countries’ authorities in serving Indonesian pilgrims to the Kingdom.

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Makkah Route initiative success opens way for Hajj pilgrims

Time: July 08, 2019  

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Bangladeshi pilgrims arriving at King Abdulaziz International Airport under Makkah Route Initiative. (SPA)
  • The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims passing through airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia
  • The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries

JEDDAH: The director general of the information department at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim bin Abdulwahab Al-Gharib, said that the ministry grants beneficiaries of the Makkah Route initiative e-Hajj visas after inserting pilgrims’ data in the electronic track of Hajj visas.

He explained in a press statement on Sunday that the ministry is participating with other concerned government agencies in the implementation of the Makkah Route initiative, following the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide the best service for pilgrims.

Al-Gharib said that the Makkah Route initiative was implemented for the Hajj season on Thursday at the airports of Islamabad in Pakistan and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and began with the first flight on Sunday in Indonesia, to be followed by Bangladesh.

He said the initiative aims to provide the best services for pilgrims through the completion of their entry into the Kingdom from the airports of their countries.

Indonesian pilgrims

The initiative was inaugurated on Sunday at Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Indonesia, in the presence of Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Dr. Lukman Hakim Saifuddin and Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Essam Abed Al-Thaqafi.

Following the inauguration, the 410 Indonesian pilgrims on the first flight completed their entry into the Kingdom via dedicated lanes at the airport in record time.

The Saudi ambassador to Indonesia said that the implementation of the Makkah Route initiative in Indonesia for the second year confirms the success of cooperation between the two countries’ authorities in serving Indonesian pilgrims to the Kingdom.

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