RIYADH — The Ministry of Interior and the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) have harnessed highly advanced technologies, systems and equipment enhanced with artificial intelligence and innovative digital solutions to complete the travel procedures in a much simplified and easier way for those Hajj pilgrims who are beneficiaries of the Makkah Route Initiative.

During the sixth year after the launch of the initiative in 2017, with the exemption of two years during which there was a restriction for the Hajj of foreign pilgrims due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Interior and SDAIA launched the highly advanced system, which allowed beneficiaries to complete procedures automatically, by taking biometrics, reading pilgrims’ passport data, and facilitating procedures for the elderly and people with disabilities, using the latest technologies to achieve the highest levels of safety and reliability.

The mobile device, which was made available in the airport lounges designated for the Makkah Route beneficiaries, contains a fingerprint sensor, a front and rear camera, and a network to communicate and transfer beneficiary data to the Ministry of Interior’s systems for authentication and to ensure the integrity of travel documents and visas.

Technology experts from SDAIA are operating across 11 airports in seven countries where from a section of the pilgrims started arriving in the Kingdom under the Makkah Route Initiative. The latest among these airports is Jinnah International Airport in Pakistan’s Karachi, where from the first batch of pilgrims, under the initiative, arrived in Madinah on Sunday.

It is noteworthy that the Makkah Route Initiative is one of the initiatives of the Ministry of Interior within the Doyof Al-Rahman Program, one of the programs of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The initiative aims to provide high-quality transportation services for the guests of God from their respective countries. It enables pilgrims to complete their immigration procedures at their country of departure, making it possible to bypass long immigration and customs procedures while arriving in Saudi Arabia.

It starts with issuing the visa electronically and taking the biometrics, and then passing through the complete passport procedures at the airport of the country of departure after verifying the availability of health requirements. Also, the procedures include coding and sorting pilgrims’ luggage to send to their place of residence in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

Upon their arrival, the pilgrims move directly to buses to take them to their places of residence either in Makkah or Madinah, with designated paths, while the service agencies deliver their luggage to their place of residence.

The ministry 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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