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Pilgrim air terminal planned for Kuala Lumpur airport

Pilgrims Saudi Malaysia Pixabay
Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s holiest shrines, in Mecca and Medina
  • Saudi Arabia and Malaysia look at haj hub
  • Hope for two-way tourism boost
  • 13m overseas visitors a year to Mecca

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are planning to build a pilgrimage air terminal in Kuala Lumpur to increase tourism numbers in both countries.

Malaysia’s transport minister Anthony Loke told an aviation industry forum in Riyadh that it was looking with the Saudi Arabian government into “building and establishing a Hajj and Umrah hub” in Kuala Lumpur together.

“We hope we can bring more tourists and travellers to Saudi Arabia and vice versa to Malaysia,” he said. 

Religious tourism is central to Saudi Arabia’s vast economic transformation plan, which is looking for tourism to account for 10 percent of GDP by 2030. The kingdom aims to register 150 million domestic and international journeys a year by 2030

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s holiest shrines, in Mecca and Medina, which receive pilgrims for the annual Hajj pilgrimage and the year-round pilgrimage known as Umrah. Of its 27 million international visitors in 2023, almost half of them came for religious reasons.

Malaysia, which itself has a Muslim majority, is only a short distance by sea from Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world. 

Loke said: “We have Malaysia Airlines operating throughout southeast Asia, and the strong low-cost carrier AirAsia, and good connectivity between Asean countries.”

The 10 members of Asean (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have a combined population of more than 600 million and a policy of unrestricted flight routes between Asean states. 

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