JAKARTA: The country with the world’s most Muslims is set to discuss an increase in its quota for the Hajj pilgrimage next year with Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah during his official visit in October, according to the Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry.
One of Islam’s five pillars of faith, the Hajj was restricted over pandemic fears to only 1,000 people living in Saudi Arabia in 2020. In 2021, the Kingdom limited the pilgrimage to 60,000 domestic participants, compared with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million.
Saudi Arabia welcomed more than 1 million pilgrims from abroad this year after lifting most of its COVID-19 curbs, with over 100,000 coming from Indonesia.
Indonesia’s officials are hoping to get a Hajj quota increase next year and will discuss the matter when Al-Rabiah visits Jakarta.
“The president wants a clear answer with regards to the possibility of (an) additional Hajj quota next year,” Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas said, as quoted in a statement shared with Arab News on Wednesday.
In 2019, the quota for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims was around 220,000, more than double the number for this year. Some Indonesians have been on the waitlist to perform Hajj for more than 30 years.
The ministry had submitted a request to bump up the quota earlier this month, and is waiting for the Saudi government to announce their decision.
Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Essam bin Abed Al-Thaqafi said this will be Al-Rabiah’s first official visit to the Southeast Asian country.
“We hope that the visit of the Saudi minister of Hajj and Umrah will garner a special welcome and go smoothly, and of course during this visit the addition of (the) quota for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims will be discussed,” Al-Thaqafi was quoted as saying.
Indonesia is also hoping to discuss ways to improve the pilgrimage experience during Al-Rabiah’s visit, Indonesia's consul-general in Jeddah Eko Hartono told Arab News.
“We welcome (the visit) because it reflects the closeness of our relations and the importance of Indonesia in the eyes of Saudi when it comes to Hajj matters,” Hartono said. “Especially when Indonesia sends the most number of Hajj pilgrims.”
“Our hope is that through the visit, the Hajj pilgrimage in 2023 will be even better prepared, not just from the Saudi side as the host but also from Indonesia and other countries which will be sending Hajj pilgrims.”