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Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Approves ‘Road to Makkah’ Project Facility At Karachi Airport

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Saudi Arabia

(CTN News) – Saudi authorities have given the green light for the expansion of the Makkah Route initiative to include the Karachi airport, announced Pakistani officials on Monday.

This development follows a visit by a two-member delegation from Saudi Arabia to the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, where they assessed facilities and discussed arrangements for pilgrims.

Makkah Route Initiative: Simplifying Hajj Immigration for Pakistani Pilgrims

Launched in 2019, the Makkah Route initiative streamlines the immigration process for Hajj pilgrims by allowing them to complete necessary procedures in their home country.

By doing so, pilgrims can bypass lengthy immigration and customs checks upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, making the entry process smoother and faster.

Pakistani pilgrims participating in Hajj under the government scheme have already been benefiting from this initiative at Islamabad airport for the past few years. The extension of this facility to Karachi airport has been eagerly anticipated by the government.

Saudi Arabia

Saifullah, spokesperson for the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), confirmed the approval, stating, “The Saudis have okayed Jinnah International Airport Karachi.”

Gulzar Soomro, director at the Hajj directorate in Karachi, further affirmed the development, revealing that a contract had been awarded to a company for the project’s design.

Despite attempts to reach the Saudi embassy in Islamabad for confirmation, no immediate response was received.

During the delegation’s visit to Karachi airport, a keen interest was shown in the entry process for pilgrims and the allocation of immigration space, as reported by the PCAA.

Saudi Arabia-Karachi Survey Paves the Way

This visit follows the recent completion of a survey for the Makkah Route initiative at Karachi airport by Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry.

With expectations that over 60 percent of this year’s pilgrims will benefit from the initiative, both government and private Hajj schemes stand to gain.

Private tour operators are required to coordinate with the Pakistani religious ministry to ensure their clients can also take advantage of the streamlined process.

Last year, Saudi Arabia reinstated Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and removed the upper age limit of 65 years. In 2023, over 81,000 Pakistani pilgrims performed Hajj under the government scheme, with the remainder opting for private tour operators.

This year’s pilgrimage is scheduled to take place from June 14 to June 19, with the expanded Makkah Route initiative set to ease the journey for many Pakistani pilgrims departing from Karachi airport.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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