Saudi Arabia increases India Hajj pilgrim quota

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the increase in quota for Indian Hajj pilgrims to 200,000 at the request of PM Narendra Modi during his recent visit to the country. (SPA)
Updated 21 February 2019

Saudi Arabia increases India Hajj pilgrim quota

  • Today, we want to be ensured that the relationship is maintained and improved for sake of both countries, says crown prince

NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the increase in quota for Indian Hajj pilgrims to 200,000 at the request of PM Narendra Modi during his recent visit to the country.

Also at the request of Modi, the crown prince ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners held in Saudi Arabian jails.

In a joint press appearance after talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the crown prince said: “Extremism and terrorism are our common concerns. We would like to tell our friend India that we’ll cooperate on all fronts, be it intelligence sharing. We’ll work with everyone to ensure a brighter future for our upcoming generations.”

The two countries will start a security dialogue at the level of national security advisers and set up a working group on counter-terrorism, said T.S. Thirumurthy, who handles economic relations at India’s Foreign Ministry.

In a joint press statement, both countries agreed to cooperate in combating terrorism. “Last week, the attack on Pulwama reminds us of the danger terror attacks pose to humanity and we are unanimous in our decision that pressure should be applied to any country promoting terror,” said the statement.

It added: “We have agreed that terrorism should not be supported in any form, and we should put pressure on countries that back terror. To end terror infrastructure, ending support to terror groups and punishing them is essential, so that young people don’t take up arms.”

In an interaction with the media at the presidential palace earlier, the crown prince said: “The relationship between India and Saudi Arabia is in our DNA. Today, we want to be ensured that the relationship is maintained and improved for sake of both countries and with the leadership of Mr. President and the Prime Minister; we can create good things for both countries.”

He said: “I admire PM Modi. He is the elder brother and I am his younger brother.”


Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.