Riyadh move to increase Haj numbers welcomed

Riyadh move to increase Haj numbers welcomed
King Salman on Thursday approved a proposal to increase the number of pilgrims from inside and outside the Kingdom. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2017

Riyadh move to increase Haj numbers welcomed

Riyadh move to increase Haj numbers welcomed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s move to increase Haj quotas this year has been welcomed, after the number of pilgrims hit a 10-year low in 2016.
King Salman on Thursday approved a proposal to increase the number of pilgrims from inside and outside the Kingdom during this year’s season, which starts in late summer.
Mohammed Shahid Alam, consul of Haj and deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in Jeddah, said restoring the quotas is good news for pilgrims.
Last year, around 136,000 Indian pilgrims came to perform Haj, down from 170,000 in 2012 after the government reduced the quota by 20 percent. The figure for this year is set to be declared after a ministerial meeting to be held later this month.
Sajid Yousfani, Pakistan’s director general for Haj, told Arab News that the news of restoring of quota is positive for the whole Muslim Ummah, or global community, and those waiting to perform Haj this year.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia imposed a 20 percent cut in the quota for foreign pilgrims, and a 50 percent cut for domestic pilgrims, to ensure safety during the expansion of the Grand Mosque.
The number of pilgrims will be gradually increased and restored to what it was five years ago, according to an official statement.
Meetings with heads of the Haj ministries across the world have been scheduled to discuss Haj 2017 preparations, and the number of pilgrims for this year from outside the Kingdom will be announced later.
Last year, 1,325,372 foreign and 537,537 domestic pilgrims performed Haj, making a total of 1,862,909 pilgrims. This was the lowest number of pilgrims recorded in the last 10 years.
More than 2.4 million Muslims performed the Haj pilgrimage in 2007, according to reports.