Hajj Made Easier, 50,000+ Pakistani Pilgrims to Breeze Through Saudi Arrival with Makkah Route

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Streamlined Hajj Journey for Pakistanis: Makkah Route Initiative Expands to Benefit Over 50,000 Pilgrims

Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has announced significant improvements for Hajj pilgrims this year, with the expansion of the Makkah Route Initiative. This initiative, launched in 2019, allows pilgrims to complete immigration procedures at their departure airport in Pakistan, significantly reducing waiting times upon arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Faster Processing, Smoother Arrival: Makkah Route Initiative Sees Expansion

Last year, over 26,000 Pakistani pilgrims benefitted from the Makkah Route Initiative. This year, the government aims to double that number with the program’s expansion to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. Secretary of Religious Affairs, Zulfiqar Haider, alongside Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, officially inaugurated the expanded program at Islamabad International Airport on Friday.

“Saudi immigration and customs procedures for Hajj pilgrims departing from Islamabad would now be efficiently conducted in Islamabad itself,” Haider explained. “Consequently, these pilgrims would swiftly navigate through the Saudi airport and proceed to their destinations without delay.”

Muslim pilgrims arrive at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, on May 10, 2024. (AFP/File)

Over 179,000 Pakistanis to Perform Hajj in 2024

This streamlined process offers immense relief for pilgrims, especially considering the large number undertaking Hajj this year. Approximately 179,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj under both government and private schemes. A month-long flight operation commenced on May 9th to transport these pilgrims.

Breakdown of Hajj Pilgrims by Scheme

The quota breakdown for this year’s Hajj is as follows:

  • Government Scheme: 89,605 pilgrims
  • Private Schemes: 89,605 pilgrims
  • Sponsorship Schemes: 25,000 pilgrims (distributed)
  • Sponsorship Schemes: 44,802 pilgrims (distributed)

Taking Flight: Hajj Operations Underway

Five airlines – Pakistan International Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Airblue, Serene Air, and Air Sial – will operate a total of 259 flights to transport around 68,000 pilgrims under the government scheme. These flights will depart from eight major Pakistani cities: Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, Quetta, Sialkot, and Sukkur, with destinations in Jeddah and Madinah.

The first Hajj flights carrying Pakistani pilgrims successfully departed on Thursday morning, marking the beginning of a smoother and more efficient Hajj experience for over 50,000 pilgrims this year.


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