The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) will improve the standard operating procedures (SOP) for pilgrimage activities in Mecca and Madinah, especially in terms of defining the role of companies that manage Haj and umrah pilgrims' affairs.
The SOP outlined by Motac secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Zari will be in compliance with the current requirements of the Malaysian and Saudi governments.
The ministry said the government is ready to enable pilgrimages to resume as the supervising body for umrah packages, is responsible for studying the SOPs of both countries as well as the welfare of Malaysian pilgrims while performing the umrah.
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 yesterday.
“Delegates had the opportunity to conduct prayers at Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in accordance with the Saudi government's various protocols,” he said.
According to Noor Zari, Motac and the delegation were also working on a draft SOP framework for the Malaysian government to consider if the Saudi government permitted pilgrimages to resume once the two countries' borders were reopened.
The talks, he said, covered a number of important topics, including the processes and functions of different parties in implementing SOPs at three stages of the pilgrimage: before departure, during the pilgrimage, and after returning to Malaysia.
After allowing foreigners to resume umrah activities on November 1 last year, the Saudi government has implemented new policies and implemented strict SOPs.
“Amendments to the SOP have been made from time to time in accordance with Covid-19 preventive measures in the region, and Motac will closely monitor any new developments on the matter,” he added.
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