SEPANG: Malaysian haj pilgrims will be the first in the world use the Proof of Concept (POC) system for pre-clearance at the point of departure to Saudi Arabia.

The POC system enables immigration checks on Malaysian pilgrims to be done at the point of departure in Kuala Lumpur, instead of upon arrival in Saudi Arabia.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said this initiative will eliminate the need for long queues by pilgrims at immigration points in Saudi Arabia, as experienced in the past.

The system, he said, would also benefit the pilgrims by freeing up more time for them to perform their ‘ibadah’.

“Saudi Arabia’s immigration authorities have been working closely with ELM Saudi Arabia, a Saudi based company, and Xybase Sdn Bhd, a local company, to implement the POC system in phases.

“The Kuala Lumpur International Airport has been chosen as the pilot site.

“All immigration processes will be done here in KLIA by Saudi immigration officers before the pilgrims’ departure.

“With the implementation of the POC, our pilgrims can go straight to the luggage area (upon arrival in Saudi Arabia) and they do not have queue up at the immigration counter. It will help them save time,” he said.

He said the POC trial system will be operating for the next four days, starting today.

This project will involve the last few flights of Tabung Haji pilgrims, beginning with Malaysia Airlines charter flight MH8146 ferrying 287 pilgrims.

Also present at the event was Lembaga Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali.

Abdul Azeez said the pilot project was initiated thanks to Prime Minister’s Datuk Seri Najib Razak strong relationship with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“We should be grateful and honoured with this new National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) initiative by our government with the Saudi government,” he said.

Abdul Azeez said at the completion of the trial period, the Transport Ministry will provide its feedback to the Saudi government.

“We are hoping for the POC system to be permenantly implemented, subject to the Saudi government’s approval,” said Abdul Azeez.