— The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) will refine the standard operating procedures (SOP) with regards to pilgrimage activities in Makkah and Madinah, particularly in terms of outlining the role of companies that manage the affairs of haj and umrah pilgrims.
MOTAC secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Zari said the SOP outlined will be in accordance with the the current requirements of the Malaysian and Saudi Arabian governments.
Speaking to Bernama today, said the ministry, as the supervising body for umrah packages, is responsible for studying the SOPs of both countries and the welfare of Malaysian pilgrims while they perform the umrah once the government is ready to allow pilgrimages to resume.
Noor Zari was part of the Malaysian delegation to Saudi Arabia in Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri’s working visit to Saudi Arabia which ended today.
“Delegates had the opportunity to follow the various protocols set by the Saudi government in performing prayers at Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi,” he said.
According to Noor Zari, MOTAC and the delegation had also engaged in discussions to prepare a draft SOP framework for the Malaysian government’s consideration in the event the Saudi government allowed pilgrimages to resume when the borders of both countries reopen.
The discussions, he said, covered several key matters, including the processes and roles of various parties regarding SOP implementation during three stages of the pilgrimage, namely prior to departure, while on pilgrimage and upon returning to Malaysia.
The Saudi government introduced new policies and put strict SOPs in place since allowing foreigners to resume umrah activities from Nov 1 last year.
“Amendments have also been made to the SOP from time to time, in line with COVID-19 prevention measures in the country, and MOTAC will follow any new developments on the matter closely,” he added.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency