Dhaka, April 12: State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah on Friday said that the immigration formalities of Saudi Arabia portion by the Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims will be completed in Bangladesh from this year.“As a result, the hajj pilgrims will not need to spare six to seven hours at Jeddah Airport for completing immigration formalities and thus their sufferings will be reduced,” he told a press briefing at the ministry today after holding a meeting with the Saudi delegation.
The state minister said that a Bangladesh delegation, headed by him, visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from February 22 to March 2, 2019 where they requested the Saudi authority to complete the immigration formalities of the hajj pilgrims in Bangladesh instead of Jeddah to reduce sufferings of the pilgrims, said an official press release.
Later, he said, a technical team of Saudi Arabia visited Bangladesh on March 21 to look into the feasibility of the pre-arrival immigration formalities of the Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims under the “Makkah Route Initiative” and they held meetings with the Religious Affairs Ministry and other concerned ministries.
In continuation of this, a high-powered 14-member delegation of Saudi Arabia, led by Director General (passport) of Saudi Arabia, Major General Solaiman Abdul Aziz Yeah Yeah, is visiting the country and holding meetings with different agencies of the government including Ministry of Religious Affairs, Civil Aviation Authority, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Authority, Immigration, Customs and IT Authorities as well as the representatives of the Bangladesh Biman and Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Abdullah said the delegation met him yesterday evening where the both sides agreed to complete the immigration formalities of the Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims in the country instead of Saudi Arabia. According to the decision of the both sides, a total of 1,27,198 hajj pilgrims will perform hajj this year including 7,198 hajj pilgrims on government arrangement while 1,20,000 hajj pilgrims on private arrangement.
The state minister said as per the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the government has been continuing efforts to reduce the cost of performing hajj and in line with this the government has so far been able to reduce the airfare of the hajj pilgrims by Taka 10,000 this year.
Parliamentary Standing Committee member on Religious Affairs Ministry Syed Nojibul Bashar Maizbhandari and Religious Affairs Secretary M Anisur Rahman were present, among others, at the press briefing.