Saudi Arabia authorities on Monday made biometric verification mandatory for all intending Hajj pilgrims in an attempt to make the identification process more computerised, a private media outlet reported.
“The biometric process has begun in Pakistan today after Riyadh’s instructions regarding identification,” Ministry of Religious Affairs Spokesperson Imran Siddiqi said.
He said that the government has given directives to visa service centres in the country to conduct a biometric verification for all aspiring applicants. Etimad, which has 26 centres nationwide, has been issued directives in this regard.
Siddiqi said the aim of the effort was to save the time of intending pilgrims at Jeddah Airport. “Mostly it takes six to 10 hours for pilgrims to get verified as they stand in long queues throughout the day.” Now, they will only have to get stamps on their passports.
The spokesperson said that the ministry is also trying to make it easier for intending pilgrims to have their verification done faster. The pilgrims have been divided into groups based on their localities and cities. “The ministry is sending texts and making calls to make the pilgrims aware of the process,” he concluded.