Saudi Arabia on Monday announced plans to establish an "express lane" for visiting pilgrims that will, when complete, facilitate pilgrim traffic to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Dubbed the "Mecca Road" initiative, the project is expected to ease travel procedures for visiting Hajj and Umrah pilgrims from around the world, Anadolu Agency reports.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, officials at Jeddah's King Abdullah Airport said that pilgrims from Malaysia and Indonesia were now able to complete all travel procedures including passport and visa controls before leaving their home countries.
Thanks to the ‘Mecca Road' project, pilgrims will be able to enter the country with all their hand luggage in only a few minutes," airport operation manager Hisham Saidi said.
Free of controls, pilgrims will be able to quickly and conveniently reach all the holy sites," he added.
Eased restrictions in Malaysia and Indonesia, he explained, would soon be extended to most other Muslim-majority countries.
Saidi went on to note that airport infrastructure, too, had recently been extensively upgraded.
Ten thousand people now work at the airport," he said, "and we have just upgraded our cameras, radars and monitors."
According to Abdul Majid Mohamed Nur al-Afghani, the airport's director of Hajj and Umrah activities, Turkey and Pakistan will also soon be integrated into the "Mecca Road" scheme.
The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina is a religious obligation for Muslims, who are expected to make the journey if financially feasible at least once in their lifetimes.
Saudi Arabia expects to host as many as 3.5 million pilgrims this year, according to official figures.
Source: Kazinform News Agency
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