Middle East

How Saudi Arabia’s McCarrot Initiative facilitated the Mecca pilgrimage journey of Asian pilgrims

DHAKA / ISLAMABAD / JAKARTA / KUALA LUMPUR: Hundreds of thousands of Asian pilgrims make pilgrimages to Mecca in the most sacred city of Islam.

Pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam’s beliefs, was limited to 1,000 in Saudi Arabia in 2020 due to fear of the coronavirus. In 2021, the Kingdom limited pilgrimage to 60,000 domestic participants.

However, Saudi Arabia welcomes approximately 900,000 domestic and foreign pilgrims, as most of the COVID-19 restrictions have already been lifted this year. About one-third of foreigners arriving in Hajj come from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan.

Indonesian pilgrims depart from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya. (AFP)

These Asian countries, along with Morocco, are the five Muslim-dominated countries where Saudi Arabia launched the Maccarut Initiative in 2019, meeting all the requirements of a Mecca pilgrimage at the departure point and waiting for arrival. Can save. , Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s Immigration Bureau staff worked to facilitate pilgrims’ journeys at major airports in these countries. Thousands of pilgrims arrived wrapped in white robes and embarked on hours of travel from remote parts of the world.

At Shahjalal International Airport, the capital of Bangladesh, dozens of Saudi Arabian officers worked 24 hours a day to streamline the departure process for Bangladesh travelers.

Bangladeshi pilgrims in pre-immigrant proceedings in Dhaka under the McCaruto Initiative. (Photo courtesy of Saudi Embassy in Dhaka)

“It’s a new one that has opened a new horizon,” Saifuru Islam, director of the Ducka Mecca Pilgrimage Office, told Arab News. “Thank you very much to the Saudi authorities.”

This initiative includes issuing visas, customs, passport procedures, and promoting health requirements. It also includes transportation to Mecca and Medina, luggage and housing arrangements.

For Mohammad Mozammel Hak, who left Dhaka, the pre-immigrant process was “very smooth.”

“We are very pleased with the management system of the Mecca pilgrimage,” he said.

Huq has dreamed of doing a Mecca pilgrimage since he saw his father embark on a pilgrimage decades ago. When the pandemic overturned his plan in 2020, he wasn’t sure he would get another chance.

“I am delighted to be able to travel to the Kingdom this time,” he told Arab News when he and his wife completed the McCarrot process. “It was a dream of my life.”

The process was also very quick for the family of Rokeya Khatun Lata, a housewife who travels with a family of four.

Bangladeshi pilgrim Rokeya Khatun Lata speaks to Arab News on June 26, 2022 at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. (AN photo)

“It took less than 30 minutes to complete the immigration process,” she told Arab News. “I am very happy from the beginning of my trip.”

Huq, Lata and their families are one of the 60,000 Bangladeshi people arriving for a pilgrimage this year.

The number of people coming from Pakistan, a South Asian country dominated by other Muslims, is even higher, with 83,300 people set up to perform the ritual. Mosque.


Foreigners have granted e-visas for pilgrimage to Mecca:

102,178 Indonesia

83,433 Pakistan

80,772 India

60,354 Bangladesh

45,201 Nigeria

45,086 Turkey

39,635 Iran

22,189 Egypt

18,970 Algeria

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia

People leaving the capital of Pakistan were greeted at the exclusive McCaroute Lounge at Islamabad International Airport.

“Arrangements at the airport are very good and you don’t have to face any difficulties throughout the process,” pilgrim Muhammad Aktar, who arrived in Islamabad from Faisalabad, told Arab News.

The first batch of Mecca Pilgrimage 2022 Pilgrims from Pakistan arrives in Medina, Saudi Arabia on June 8, 2022, through a dedicated “McCaroute” lounge at Islamabad Airport. (Included)

“I have applied for a pilgrimage to Mecca for the past four years and have been approved this year. Thanks to Almighty Allah for giving me this opportunity.”

Another Pakistani pilgrim, Lubuna Assad, thanked the staff of McCarrot for their cooperation.

“I am very happy and grateful to Saudi Arabia,” she said.

In Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, some were surprised by the welcome attitude of Saudi Arabian officials. Many of them went one step further to welcome pilgrims in their native language. This year, a total of 14,300 Malaysian pilgrims will embark on a Mecca pilgrimage trip.

Malaysian Mecca pilgrims will pass pre-immigration procedures under the McCarut Initiative at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on June 28, 2022. (AN photo)

“We’re not in Saudi Arabia yet, but I can already feel the warmth. This is very welcome,” said Arif Abdullah, who boarded a plane from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Jeddah. Told.

“I was joking with the Immigration Bureau Chap. He knew some Malay!”

The pre-immigrant process allows pilgrims to focus on their spiritual journey. This is because all its practical aspects are dealt with.

“The Macca route is very convenient,” said Johar Yusov, another pilgrim leaving Kuala Lumpur. “I love it.”

Zinab Binti Awan, who is in a wheelchair with her sister, is relieved to be relieved of the burden of regular departure and arrival procedures under the McCaroute.

Malaysian Mecca pilgrims will pass pre-immigration procedures under the McCarut Initiative at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on June 28, 2022. (AN photo)

“When we arrive in Jeddah, we are all cleared and we don’t have to wait for immigrants there,” she said. “We can immediately take the bus to the hotel.”

Police officers who assisted Abdullah, Yusov, Awan and many others at Kuala Lumpur Airport told Arab News that they were honored to be part of the McCaruto Initiative.

“This initiative promotes the process of pilgrims’ immigration in their country of origin, including fingerprint authentication and verification of entry (to Saudi Arabia) and delivery of packages to selected accommodations in a very short time. “I am honored to be able to participate in the McCarrot Initiative,” Major Anas Muhammad, who arrived from Jedda, told Arab News.

Muhammad’s colleague, Sgt. Kholoud Al-Ahmadi was pleased to be able to support Malaysian pilgrims.

“I am honored to be part of the Malaysian McCarrot Initiative,” she said. “I am very happy to be able to participate in this initiative, especially since this is my first time in Malaysia.”

In neighboring Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, 100,000 pilgrims will fulfill their spiritual obligations this year.

Indonesian pilgrims pray that they will arrive at Abdulaziz King International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in June 2022. (Photo courtesy of Indonesian Ministry of Religion)

Many of the potential pilgrims had to spend many years on the waiting list. Pilgrim quotas in their country are always the highest, with a population of over 270 million, but it takes time to promote everything.

Camaria, an Aceh pilgrim who waited her turn for twelve years, could not find words to explain her excitement that she was able to pray at the Grand Mosque in Macca.

“I don’t know how to express how happy I am by looking at the Kaaba,” she told Arab News. “I feel like I never want to leave it.”

Like other pilgrims, Camaria is especially spiritually prepared for the journey.

“We must have already cleansed our hearts before we went to the sanctuary,” she said. “We want to be good Mecca pilgrims.”

Indonesian pilgrims are preparing to leave Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport on June 4, 2022. (JuniKriswanto / AFP)

The McCaroute Program was available to Indonesians at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.

Arriving in the capital from West Java, Iis Nuraisah said her departure to the airport was overseen by Saudi authorities and the process was “very satisfying.”

“It’s so great, and it really helps facilitate and promote things so that we don’t have to go through the checks after we arrive at the Sanctuary,” Nuraisah told Arab News. ..

“It certainly makes things easier. It’s very useful for Mecca pilgrims.”

Malaysian pilgrim Arif Abdullah speaks to Arab News at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on June 28, 2022. (AN photo)

Pre-departure satisfaction is added by the hospitality received by pilgrims in the Kingdom.

“Everyone was friendly, whether it was hotel service, food, laundry, shop service, or people,” Aceh doctor Amalia Sabrina, who arrived in Saudi Arabia last month, told Arab News.

“My family and I did not stop thanking Allah because we were called to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca this year.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2120191/saudi-arabia How Saudi Arabia’s McCarrot Initiative facilitated the Mecca pilgrimage journey of Asian pilgrims

Show More
Back to top button