Authorities make online biometric verification mandatory for Hajj pilgrims

 The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony held an important meeting on the use of ‘Saudi Visa Bio-Application’ in which it was briefed that the online fingerprint biometric would be mandatory for pilgrims this year as well.

Giving presentations, the officials of Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of Etimad Office, informed that the pilgrims could use this application through their smart cellular phones in three easy steps including taking selfies, scanning passports, and fingerprints with the help of mobile camera.

The fingerprints biometric facility would also be available free of charge from the Etimad Offices across the country, they added.

The religious affairs ministry’s spokesperson Muhammad Umar Butt said the instructions for using this mobile application would be available on the ministry’s website and social media.

He further said the hand or finger-handicapped persons had to upload computerized medical certificate of the authorized doctor. He said the biometric mobile application had been further simplified.

The meeting was presided over the joint secretary Hajj and attended by the Hajj Wing officers besides representatives of private Hajj operators.

Earlier in Feb, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony decided to allocate a 25 per cent special quota in the Government Hajj Scheme for the pilgrims who will deposit dues in dollars.

The ministry also decided that the intending pilgrims, depositing dues in dollars, would be exempted from the balloting under the new Hajj policy, official sources said on Friday.

They said about 22,400 pilgrims would benefit from the ‘Sponsorship Scheme’ being introduced by the ministry in the wake of the current foreign exchange reserves in the country.

The Hajj expenses could also be submitted through foreign remittances in dollars, the sources added.