Hajj Pilgrims: Wait times at Saudi airports to come down
12:00 AM, March 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:40 AM, March 20, 2019

Hajj Pilgrims: No more wait times at Saudi airports

Immigration to be completed in Dhaka

Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims this year will not have to wait for completing the immigration process at Saudi Arabia airports as the Saudi government is going to do it in Dhaka.

“After two years of our hectic efforts, the Saudi government has recently assured the Bangladesh government of accepting its request to complete the immigration process from Dhaka instead of Saudi Arabia,” Anisur Rahman, secretary of religious affairs ministry, told The Daily Star yesterday.       

He added that a technical team of the Saudi government, comprising secretaries of its relevant ministries, would arrive in Bangladesh tomorrow to assess the preparations of the Bangladesh government in this regard.

Besides, a high-powered delegation from the Saudi government's hajj ministry,

passport and immigration department is also scheduled to visit Bangladesh from April 6 to 9 to make the final assessment on the measure.

Only two countries -- Malaysia and Indonesia -- can now complete the immigration process of their pilgrims at their own airports, sources said.

The Bangladeshi pilgrims will be able to have their immigration procedures completed in Dhaka before their departure within a minute which usually takes hours in Saudi Arabia, said Anisur.  

After landing at airports, the pilgrims can enter Saudi Arabia through jet bridge without facing immigration formalities, he added. 

Around 1.27 lakh Bangladeshis are scheduled to perform hajj this year, which is likely to be held in August. About 20 lakh people from across the world gather in Saudi Arabia to perform hajj each year.   

Talking to this correspondent, several people, who had performed hajj in recent years, said it would be a great relief for Bangladeshi pilgrims if the government could convince the Saudi government to complete their immigration process in Dhaka.

It often takes hours -- even up to six hours -- to finish the immigration procedures at airports in Jeddah and Riyadh for Bangladeshi citizens during the rush hour of hajj causing sufferings of them, they said.

The religious affairs secretary said a delegation, led by state minister of religious affairs ministry Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, recently visited Saudi Arabia and requested its government to this end. 

He said the Saudi government at that time assured the delegation of accepting Bangladesh's request.   

Anisur said they will finish all necessary requirements before the high-powered delegation from the Saudi government visits Bangladesh.

“We are going to hold an inter-ministerial meeting where representatives of relevant ministries and departments will be present. We will discuss how to fulfill the requirements of the Saudi government,” he added.

The secretary said after the visit of the high-powered Saudi team, it would be finalised whether the immigration process would be completed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport or Ashkona Hajj camp.

Anisur said during the month-long hajj flight operation, officials of the Saudi government would stay in Dhaka to look after the immigration process of Bangladeshi pilgrims. “But all these things will be finalised following the visit of the Saudi delegation in April.” 

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