HomeHajjMalaysia concludes Hajj flights as last batch of pilgrims leaves for Saudi...

Malaysia concludes Hajj flights as last batch of pilgrims leaves for Saudi Arabia

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Malaysia completed on Wednesday its special Hajj flight operations under the Makkah Route initiative, which offered many pilgrims the first direct experience of Saudi hospitality.

This year, 31,600 Malaysians are participating in the annual pilgrimage that is one of the five pillars of Islam.

The last Hajj flight departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Wednesday afternoon with 284 pilgrims on board.

“I am very happy. Today is the last day of the last chartered flight. We have 98 flights for this Hajj season. We hope everything goes well,” Anuar bin Ahmad, deputy director of field operations for Tabung Haji, Malaysia’s Hajj pilgrims fund board, told Arab News.

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“The Makkah Route initiative has been very helpful. The pilgrims do not need to wait too long, and it helps to have all of them arrive in Makkah and Madinah early. Besides that, they all have their luggage (transferred) directly to their hotels. We thank the Saudi government for this initiative.”

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Malaysia is among seven Muslim-majority countries — including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkiye and Cote d’Ivoire — where Saudi Arabia opened the program.

Launched in 2019, Makkah Route allows Hajj pilgrims to fulfill all visa, customs and health requirements at the airport of origin, saving long hours of waiting. Upon arrival, pilgrims can enter the Kingdom having already gone through visa and customs processes back home.

Among them was young Malaysian doctor Aazhimah binti Othman, who will be performing the pilgrimage with her husband, parents and siblings.

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“It started a few years ago when my younger brother asked my father to register the whole family for Hajj. It was really unexpected that we got to do Hajj together this year,” she said.

“The process for Hajj has been very smooth, especially with the Makkah Route initiative. We didn’t have to wait long.”

For lecturer Zulhan bin Othman, it will be the first time he sees Islam’s holiest sites. His wife, Wan Wahida Binti Wan Mohd Zodhi, a medical practitioner, was worried that he might feel lost among millions of people who will be in Makkah to fulfill their religious duty.

But Othman said he was already reassured by how smoothly all immigration work went at the airport.

“The Makkah Route initiative is really wonderful. We can just go directly to our hotel as if we were citizens of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I thank the Saudi government for the initiative. It definitely reduced my anxiety.”

 

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