Online portal allows pilgrims to register for Hajj 2022 (1443)
Saudi Arabia has developed an online portal so that pilgrims from Europe, America, and Australia can register directly for Hajj 2022 (1443).
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said pilgrims can register their interest to perform Hajj at www.motawif.com.sa, where they will have access to various travel packages.
The portal also includes support services, a 24/7 call centre in multiple languages and the processing of visas electronically.
Registering through the portal does not mean confirmation though. The website says once registered, applicants will "enter an official draw to be selected for Hajj 1443-2022."
Once selected, a person can make payment and will then get issued an e-visa by the authorities.
Priority will be given to those that have not performed hajj before.
Pilgrims must be under 65 years old and fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They must also present a negative PCR test that was taken before departing for the Kingdom.
Using technology to improve experience
"These services come within the framework of the Ministry's strategy to develop the digital experience for pilgrims," the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.
"These efforts aim to facilitate the procedures and provide competitive prices for pilgrims from these countries," it added.
Ufuk Seçgin, Islam Channel's travel expert and the CMO of Halalbooking.com, said in principle he welcomes the initiative to make better use of technology.
"UK hajjis will benefit from this new platform as it should enhance the user experience, but more importantly it will create a benchmark especially in terms of pricing and as we all know competition is good for the end consumer," Ufuk told Islam Channel.
"This will stimulate the competition between the UK hajj tour operators which will result in enhanced services and more competitive prices for the consumers."
The move signals a swift return to some sort of normality with Saudi allowing a million people to perform Hajj this year. In the past two years, foreign pilgrims were not able to perform Hajj due to pandemic restrictions.