Passport staff geared for influx of pilgrims

18,000 buses readied for Haj transport


Saudi Gazette report

— The Department of Passports has completed all arrangements to receive Haj pilgrims at the Kingdom's airports, seaports and overland crossing points, according to Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director general of passports.

"We have deployed qualified passport personnel to all entry points and supplied them with the most advanced equipment to speedily complete the entry procedures," he said.

He said the passport desks at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz in Madinah have welcomed the first groups of the pilgrims and processed their passports in a matter of minutes.

Al-Yahya said the Passport Department was continuing its implementation of the "Makkah Road" initiatives under which the entry procedures of Malaysian and Indonesian pilgrims were completed at their embarkation points back home before they left for the Kingdom.

Last year the service was implemented on an experimental basis but this year all 200,000 plus pilgrims coming from Malaysia and Indonesia will have their passports processed at the airports in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

Al-Yahya said the biometric data of pilgrims would be entered into the computer system of the Passport Department right at the embarkation points.

"When they arrive in the Kingdom, the pilgrims will not have to wait at the airport lounges for immigration procedures. They can go directly to the buses waiting outside the airport to take them either to Makkah or Madinah," he added.

Meanwhile, the Unified Zamzama Office, which is in charge of the Zamzam water distribution, said it would supply the guests of God with the blessed water at their places of accommodation.

Amir Faisal Obaid, spokesman for the office, said the Zamzam water factory, established on a 10,000 square meter area, is producing 2,000 containers of 20-liter capacity every hour.

"We have new production lines for containers with a capacity of 200, 330 and 600 ml," he said.

On Monday, Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Banten visited the office of the General Syndicate of Cars in Makkah where he was briefed about the preparedness of the syndicate for the Haj.

Abdul Rahman Al-Harbe, the syndicate's president, said more than 18,000 buses would be deployed into service to transport pilgrims between Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.

The minister asked the public and private parties concerned with Haj services to combine their efforts so as to provide the best services to the guests of God.