ANKARA — Saudi Arabia launched the Makkah Route Initiative at the Esenboga International Airport in Ankara.

A lounge was set up at the Ankara airport, which is the second airport in Türkiye to see the launching of the initiative. Saudi Ambassador to Türkiye Fahd Abu Al-Nasr, Ankara Governor Vasip Sahin, and Vice President of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Hilmi Karsli were present at the launching ceremony.

Launched by the Ministry of Interior in 2017, the Makkah Route Initiative aims to streamline and enhance the Hajj journey for pilgrims. A total of 617,756 pilgrims from seven countries have benefited from the initiative until last Hajj. These countries include Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkiye, Morocco, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Côte d'Ivoire. First batches of pilgrims under this initiative have arrived in Madinah from Indonesia and Pakistan.

The Makkah Route Initiative aims to provide high-quality services to pilgrims from beneficiary countries arriving in the Kingdom to perform the annual pilgrimage of Hajj. This includes issuing an electronic Hajj visa, taking biometric data, and completing the necessary procedures in their home countries in simplified and easier procedures. The General Directorate of Passports will ensure that health requirements are met before entering the Kingdom, and luggage will be coded and sorted according to transportation and accommodation arrangements. Pilgrims will then move directly to buses that will take them to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah, with dedicated routes. Partner agencies will transport their luggage separately.

The Makkah Route Initiative is part of the Pilgrim Experience Program, one of the Ministry of Interior’s initiatives related to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. It is being implemented for the sixth year in cooperation with various ministries such as foreign affairs, health, Hajj and Umrah, media, the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, and the Saudi Data and AI Authority.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is implementing the initiative in cooperation with the ministries of foreign affairs, health, and Hajj and Umrah, the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), the General Directorate of Passports, and Elm Company.

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