SAHUC Chairperson in the Western Cape Mohammad Groenewald was pleased with the send-off. “The first hujjaj are always the litmus test. They’ve mastered this.
The departure of 37 pilgrims on Sunday was the first of many more for this year’s pilgrimage. The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) earlier released a list of 1000 South Africans who had been approved to participate this year.
The arrival of this year’s pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia marks the beginning of the first full capacity Hajj season after two limited years due to COVID-19.
The Makkah Route initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Guests of God Service Program, which King Salman launched in 2019 with the goal of providing pilgrims to the holy sites with the best services available to assist them conduct their Hajj rituals easily and comfortably.
The initiative is being launched in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry, Foreign Ministry, General Authority of Civil Aviation, Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, Guests of God Service Program, Saudi Passports, and Saudi digital security firm Elm Co.
It entails granting visas, ensuring pilgrims meet health criteria, and coding and sorting luggage at airports in pilgrims’ home countries.
Over 400 Turkish group leaders are trained by the Hajj ministry in preparation for the pilgrimage.
Over 400 guides have been trained by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to lead groups of Turkish pilgrims throughout the Hajj season.
The training session was held in Ankara, and 421 Turkish group leaders were trained to guide pilgrims accompanying them on Hajj.
Seven countries are in the initiative: Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Bangladesh, Turkiye and Cote d’Ivoire.
There will be daily arrivals of several flights between Jeddah and Madinah airports until June 4.
Saudi Vision 2030
The program aims to raise the quality of services provided to pilgrims, facilitate their journey, and enrich their religious and cultural experiences in order to achieve the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.
Similar training seminars were held this year in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Nigeria, with approximately 300 leaders trained.
Similar training programs have taken place in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Nigeria this year during which around 300 leaders were trained.