Ministry of Hajj Portal
||Ministry of Hajj
||Oct 08, 2005
||The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plays an important role as host to Muslim visitors worldwide who come to perform a ritual pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, and to visit Madinah and other sites of religious significance throughout the Kingdom. Issuing visas and provisioning facilities to these travellers is the responsibility of the Saudi Arabian government’s Ministry of Hajj.
The Ministry manages an average of five to six million Muslim visitors performing Hajj (2.2 million within one month alone) and Umrah each year. A desire to better serve the large, and growing, number of annual pilgrims led the Ministry of Hajj to initiate a plan to improve services to visitors by implementing new services infrastructure.
The Ministry of Hajj portal was then designed to address the entire range of visitors’ needs – from obtaining visas and plane tickets, to the accommodations and services visitors will need during their stay. For this reason, the project comprises a mix of government and private sector. The uses of the portal to obtain visas, plane tickets, accommodations and services are limited to approved intermediaries such as travel agents.
The main objectives of the Ministry of Hajj portal are to:
- To serve the Muslim community, service providers and government entities;
- Assist members of the Muslim community worldwide, interested in performing Hajj and/or Umrah, by providing access to necessary services and information;
- Provide an authentic source of information concerning the Islamic faith and the Hajj and Umrah rituals;
- Provide the Muslim community, service providers and government entities with a means for effecting business transactions, and offering a unified and always available access point for information;
- Serve Ministry of Hajj employees, M2E (Ministry-to-Employees);
- Serve business owners (service providers), M2B (Ministry-to-Business);
- Serve government organisations, M2G (Ministry-to-Government);
- Provide unified access to information across various back-end information systems, such as ERP, data warehouse and CRM systems, and pilgrim databases;
- Serve the community, including services for pilgrims, Muslims and non-Muslims, M2C (Ministry-to-Consumer).
The next step for the Ministry of Hajj will be an extension of the portal to serve pilgrims directly. Instead of making travel plans through a licensed travel agency, as is currently required, the portal will provide even greater flexibility and convenience by allowing visitors to apply for visas online and book their own travel plans, again, potentially increasing revenue for Saudi Arabian airlines, hotels, and other companies.
The new portal is expected to serve nearly one billion Muslims around the world.
||The number of pilgrims visiting the Kingdom has increased by 35 percent since the Ministry of Hajj implemented this component of the e-government solution.
The portal solution allows Muslims to buy a complete Umrah package, pay for it, and get the visa from the nearest Saudi mission within 48 hours.
The following are the key benefits of the portal:
- Visa approvals, which previously could take up to six weeks, can now be completed in two days.
- The Ministry of Hajj can bring new service providers on board to serve visitors more effectively and efficiently, while ensuring and monitoring quality of service levels.
- Travel wholesalers can make data about pilgrims available online to licensed travel agencies, ensuring that visitors get high-level services.
- Improvements in hospitality services allow more Muslims to fulfill religious commitments quickly and easily.
||United Nations Development Programme
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