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Walk this way, pilgrims

Walk this way, pilgrims

Saudi Arabian officials announced the procedures Haj pilgrims need to follow upon arriving in the Kingdom. Prepare yourself, it’s complicated.

November 5, 2009 2:26 by

King Abdulaziz International Airport and the Jeddah Islamic Port are the two principal points through which pilgrims enter and leave the Kingdom after performing Haj. Because of the two points’ nearness to Makkah, about 70 percent of pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom arrive and depart through them. It is customary to make a special reception for the first group of pilgrims arriving by air, land and sea. The following is the lowdown on the procedures that await pilgrims on arrival at the airport:

1. The pilgrim is taken to a holding bay/waiting area immediately after he or she lands at the airport.

2. Maktab al-Wukala staff (also known as handling agents) attach a set of 10 bar codes to his or her passport. Each pilgrims gets his or her unique code.

3. The pilgrim goes through health checks. He or she is checked for swine flu and fever.

4. The pilgrim is taken to the immigration counter and gets fingerprinted and photographed. The bar code is electronically attached to his or her visa and passport details. One of the 10 bar codes is pasted near the Saudi visa sheet. The other nine stickers are used by other Haj agencies.

5. The Haji (pilgrim) then goes to the luggage area and proceeds through customs.

6. Once the pilgrim is out, the next step is to go to the Haj Ministry counter. They take another bar code sticker to help ascertain how many pilgrims have arrived in the country at any given time.

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