Saudi Arabia picks Malaysia for Haj pre-departure pilot project: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Saudi Arabia has selected Malaysia as the first country for a pilgrim pre-departure pilot project at the KL International Airport that will exempt pilgrims from passport and customs checks in Jeddah and Madinah.

This was disclosed today by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak who said the inter-government project would be launched by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for the last seven flights taking pilgrims to the Holy Land between today and Sunday.

"When our pilgrims arrive at Jeddah and Madinah, they will leave the airports without having to undergo passport and customs checks.

"We hope that this collaboration with the Saudi Arabian government can be extended for the pilgrims to come and for the umrah this year. This pilot project is a recognition for Malaysia," he said.

Najib, who is Umno president, was speaking to the media after chairing a meeting of the Umno Supreme Council, here.

Also present at the press conference were Ahmad Zahid, who is an Umno vice-president discharging the duties of the deputy president; vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein; secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor; treasurer Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak; information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Malaysian pilgrims, numbering 30,200 in all for this year, began to fly to the Holy Land from July 24. They are scheduled to return between Sept 7 and Oct 4. — Bernama