Bangladeshi pilgrims, like citizens of other nations, can now travel across the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Umrah visa.
Besides, the validity of the visa has been extended from one month to three months for the pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Bangladesh Issa bin Youssef Al-Duhailan made the announcement while inaugurating the Saudi government's initiative Route to Makkah at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital on 9 June, reports The MENAFN.
The State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan and the State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mahbub Ali, were also present at the airport on the occasion among other top Bangladeshi officials.
At the event, the Ambassador further said, pilgrims can apply for Umrah visa directly online and will receive it by a day.
"After Kuwait, Bangladesh is the second country which we are granting online applications from for Umrah visa. The visa will be issued in 24 hours and it will have a validity of three months. Also, the pilgrims will be allowed to travel to other destinations all over the Kingdom with the Umrah visa once they are performing Umrah," said Issa bin Youssef Al-Duhailan.
Under the Route to Makkah initiative, the immigration formalities from Saudi Arabia's end are being carried out at Dhaka Airport. Hence, no Bangladeshi pilgrim will have to wait after arriving in Jeddah. Also, their bags will be taken directly to their respective hotels.
"Before this Road to Makkah initiative, Bangladeshi pilgrims had to wait at Saudi Arabia's airport for up to 10-11 hours. Pilgrims will not have to suffer from that hassle anymore due to this initiative," said State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali.
Md Faridul Haque Khan, State Minister for Religious Affairs, said, "This initiative is saving the pilgrims 9-10 hours at least. It has made the travel of our pilgrims to Saudi Arabia hassle free and convenient."
This year, Bangladesh and four other countries are getting to benefit from this Route to Makkah initiative.
King Salman launched the Makkah Route initiative in 2019 as part of Saudi Arabia's "Guests of God Service Programme" to help pilgrims do Hajj smoothly and comfortably.
The first batch of Hajj 2022 pilgrims from Bangladesh arrived in Jeddah on June 6 through a dedicated Makkah Route lounge at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The Makkah Route includes issuing visas, ensuring the pilgrims' biological characteristics and compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in pilgrims' home countries. Five countries are in the initiative: Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh.