Hajj pilgrims can now have their immigration process completed at Dhaka airport before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
“Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims can enter Saudi Arabia through the jet bridge without any immigration formalities after landing,” said Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, state minister for religious affairs, at a press briefing in the ministry yesterday.
Pilgrims had to wait for hours at Saudi airports to complete the immigration procedure, causing immense sufferings of the pilgrims.
A 14-member team, led by Saudi Arabia's Director General of Passports Maj Gen Sulaiman Al-Yahya, is now visiting Dhaka, said Abdullah.
The team arrived here on Tuesday to discuss the issue of immigration process before leaving Dhaka with the officials of civil aviation and tourism ministry, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, immigration and customs departments, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines.
The state minister said a technical team from Saudi Arabia had earlier visited Dhaka to observe the immigration process.
Bangladeshi pilgrims will also have to complete a 10-finger biometric registration in line with the Saudi immigration rules, Abdullah added.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Anisur Rahman, secretary of the religious affairs ministry, said after two years of their efforts, the Saudi government finally agreed to complete the immigration process in Dhaka instead in Saudi Arabia.
Only two other countries -- Malaysia and Indonesia -- can now complete the immigration process of their pilgrims at their own airports, he said.
The pilgrims can have their immigration procedures completed in Dhaka before their departure within a minute, which usually takes hours in Saudi Arabia, the secretary added.
Around 1.27 lakh Bangladeshis are scheduled to perform hajj this year, which is likely to be held in August.