Bangladeshi pilgrims are thankful for a hassle-free journey down the Mecca route

The first batch of Hajj 2023 pilgrims from Bangladesh will arrive in Jeddah on May 21, 2023. (a photograph)?

DHAKA: Bangladeshi pilgrims setting out for Hajj are thankful for the Mecca route facilities, which they say will streamline the immigration process and take the burden off foreign travel.

More than 125,000 Bangladeshis have traveled to Saudi Arabia this year for the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. Most depart from the capital Dhaka, assisted by Saudi officials who have been working around the clock since last week when special Hajj flights began under the Mecca Route initiative.

A flagship pre-departure program was launched by the Kingdom in 2019 to help pilgrims complete all visa, customs and health requirements at their home airport, saving them long hours of waiting before and upon arrival in Saudi Arabia.

“All pilgrims board their flights with comfort and smiles. This initiative has been greatly appreciated by people at home and abroad,” Saiful Islam, Director of the Hajj Office Dhaka, told Arab News.

“Pilgrims are enjoying the journey like a domestic flight. After landing in the kingdom, they board a bus and reach their hotel.

Some who have already traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj this year are surprised at how smooth travel is under the Mecca Route scheme.

“All my immigration formalities were completed at Dhaka airport before taking the fight to the Holy Land. It only took a minute to do things,” 63-year-old Mohammed Mosharraf Hossein told Arab News when he arrived in Jeddah.

„For me, this is like a blessing. It was unthinkable even a couple of years ago. My sincere thanks to the Saudi authorities for giving us this beautiful opportunity.

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Mohammad Soleiman, 59, said he did not have to worry about anything and could focus on the spiritual dimensions of the pilgrimage.

„The pre-immigration people at Dhaka airport and everyone here in the kingdom were very kind and always helpful,” he said.

“I can only imagine the daunting task of managing thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. Hundreds of people are working day and night to look after the pilgrims. I am grateful to the authorities of the Kingdom for providing us with these beautiful services.

The hospitality that pilgrims receive even before arriving in Saudi Arabia is appreciated by all.

Latifah Begum, 56, told Arab News that she was initially worried about how to communicate because her English was not perfect, but it ended without any problems as all the officers were kind and accommodating.

„From the moment we landed in the kingdom, everyone treated us as special guests,” he said.

„Nothing better than this. I pray from the bottom of my heart for the well-being of the officials of the kingdom who gave us such a smooth journey.

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