Jakarta (ANTARA) - Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas expressed appreciation for the government of Saudi Arabia that has increased the fast-track Hajj service, namely the Makkah Route Initiative, for Indonesian pilgrims.

"This is a joint effort of the Indonesian Government and the Government of Saudi Arabia in facilitating the pilgrims," he said during a send-off event for the first batch Hajj departure at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, on Sunday.

According to him, this year, the fast-track facility is prepared for pilgrims who depart from Jakarta, Solo, and Surabaya, while last year it was only available in Jakarta.

The minister, along with the Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Faisal Bin Abdullah H. Amodi and his entourage, witnessed firsthand the fast-track service process for the departure of Hajj pilgrims from the JKG 01 Jakarta Embarkation Point.

"We saw the fast-track service at the airport. It didn't take more than two minutes. Very fast," Qoumas said.

He further said that the facility could make things easier for the pilgrims because they would no longer be bothered by immigration issues, so they could immediately carry out their worship activities.

"Hopefully this will provide convenience, goodness, and smoothness for all Indonesian Hajj pilgrims," he remarked.

The Makkah Route initiative is a program of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that makes it easier for Hajj pilgrims from several countries, including Indonesia, to perform Hajj.

The program allows pilgrims to complete entry procedures to Saudi Arabia at their home country's airport.Previously, the facility was only available at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Starting this year, it is also provided at Juanda International Airport and Adi Soemarmo International Airport.

The fast-track service can save time for pilgrims upon arrival at the destination airports, both Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

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Translator: Sean Filo, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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