Saudi Arabia announced the extension of its Makkah Route Initiative to Türkiye, aiming to facilitate travel, immigration and other processes for pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Medina Tuesday.
The Makkah Route Initiative, which began in 2019 as part of the “Guests of God Service Program,” one of many initiatives in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, has now reached out to include Türkiye.
This initiative is being carried out in Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Ivory Coast, as well as Türkiye, according to the Saudi Interior Ministry.
It aims to assist pilgrims by simplifying procedures so that they can be completed in their home countries.
The initiative includes visas, passports, and health procedures for pilgrims before they leave their home countries. It additionally covers luggage procedures, transportation, and lodging upon arrival in Saudi Arabia.
Ali Erbaş, head of Türkiye’s top religious body Diyanet, expressed his delight at the project’s launch at Istanbul Airport.
Erbaş said that the project will provide significant convenience to Turkish pilgrims by allowing them to complete critical tasks such as fingerprint checks and passport control at Istanbul Airport, which are typically performed upon landings in Saudi Arabia’s Makkah or Medina cities.
“After our pilgrims depart from here, they will immediately get into cars and arrive at their hotels, without having to wait at the airports in Makkah and Medina,” he explained, hailing Saudi efforts. “When we consider past difficulties, such as waiting in long passport queues, waiting to have their fingerprints taken, we can especially emphasize that this is a major project and a significant innovation.”
Director General of the Saudi General Directorate of Passports, Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Yahya, who was also present on the occasion, said that there is no other example of this project in the world.
“When pilgrims board the flight from here, they will complete their journey as if they were on a domestic flight, even easier than a domestic flight, without any additional procedure,” Al-Yahya said.
Meanwhile, Hasan Ayer, 45, from a pilgrimage convoy waiting to depart for Saudi Arabia at Istanbul Airport, expressed his appreciation for the project, saying that the new initiative is particularly beneficial for the elderly.
Source: Daily Sabah