FASTER CLEAR­ING FOR PIL­GRIMS

Ear­lier flights lead to smooth pro­cess­ing at air­ports

New Straits Times - - News - JEDDAH news@nst.com.my

TABUNG Haji’s (TH) sched­ul­ing of ear­lier flights for Malaysian haj pil­grims to the Holy Land this year has led to faster pro­cess­ing upon ar­rival at the King Ab­du­laziz In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Jeddah and Me­d­ina are the two en­try points into Saudi Ara­bia for Malaysian haj pil­grims.

TH’s Jeddah op­er­a­tions direc­tor Mo­hamad Zamry Mohd Noor said of the 64 haj flights sched­uled to land in Jeddah, 14 had ar­rived with more than 5,000 pil­grims.

“In the past, most Malaysian haj flights landed in Me­d­ina. But, now, TH has planned ear­lier flights to Jeddah, which makes it more com­fort­able at the air­port.

“There aren’t many pil­grims ar­riv­ing from other coun­tries, so it is very smooth at the ar­rival hall, Im­mi­gra­tion, bag­gage col­lec­tion, and cus­toms,” he told Malaysian me­dia here.

Zamry said pre­vi­ously, when pil­grims ar­rived closer to the wukuf date, pro­cess­ing at the air­port could take be­tween 5 and 6 hours. With the ear­lier ar­rivals, it takes only 2 to 3 hours.

An­other im­prove­ment this year is the en­hance­ment of the ehaj sys­tem im­ple­mented by the Saudi Ara­bian gov­ern­ment.

“Be­fore, there were coun­ters from where we had to col­lect stick­ers, which had to be pasted in pass­ports, and an­other counter to col­lect bus tick­ets for trans­porta­tion from the air­port to Me­d­ina or Mecca.

“With the e-haj sys­tem, th­ese man­ual pro­cesses are no longer nec­es­sary. There’s less pa­per­work and the process is shorter,” he added.

Haj pil­grims are also pro­vided with Saudi Im­mi­gra­tion ar­rival cards when de­part­ing from Malaysia, which fur­ther speeds up pro­cess­ing upon ar­rival in Jeddah.

“It is also good that our haj pil­grims un­der­stand the process they will go through, and have proven to be dis­ci­plined, queu­ing up in an or­derly man­ner and not rush­ing or push­ing,” Zamry said.

He at­trib­uted this to the cour­ses and brief­ings or­gan­ised by TH in Malaysia to pre­pare the pil­grims on what to ex­pect.

“No sin­gle haj pil­grim from Malaysia has been stopped for bring­ing in pro­hib­ited items. Over­all, our pil­grims have fol­lowed in­struc­tions and reg­u­la­tions well. Even those who brought in food items have packed them well.”

Af­ter clear­ing Im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms, Malaysian pil­grims are led to a wait­ing area where they can pray, use the wash­room, are given re­fresh­ments and meals, be­fore board­ing busses to Me­d­ina or Mecca.

The re­main­ing 50 flights to Jeddah are ar­riv­ing from now to Aug 26, av­er­ag­ing 2 to 4 flights a day.

Mo­hamad Zamry Mohd Noor

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