Hajj quota allocated for Maldives may increase: Islamic Minister

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Maldivians performing Hajj in Mecca — Photo: Mihaaru

There is a chance that the quota allocated for Maldivians to go to Saudi Arabia on the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj may increase, said Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed today.

This announcement was made today during a press conference held by the Islamic Ministry, in which Minister Shaheem detailed that President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has sent an official letter to the Saudi government requesting for an extension of the quota. He further added that the Islamic Ministry is also in communication with key figures of the Hajj and Umrah Ministry in Saudi Arabia.

The current allocated Hajj quota for Maldivians is 1,000 per year. The Maldivian government’s request is to double this amount, and allow 2,000 Maldivians to go on Hajj annually.

Minister Shaheem explained that although the allocated quota was previously increased at the behest of the Maldivian government, it is now done through proper planning. One aspect the Saudi government takes into consideration is the available bed capacity at the three prominent locations of the pilgrimage, Mina, Arafat and Mecca.

He further added that the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfig F. AlRabiah assured to prioritise Maldives when distributing unoccupied Hajj applications from countries which receive larger quotas.

“For example, one country may receive [a quota of] 500,000 people. The [quota] is allocated based on the country’s population. Countries which receive quotas of 300,000 or 100,000 do not utilise that exact amount. Due to various economic reasons, people are unable to go to Hajj and the spots are left unoccupied. For example 50,000 people utilised the quota of a country which was set at 100,000. The remaining amount is unused. The left over slots are distributed [to countries] based on the amount they have requested for,” the minister explained in detail.

However, he said that a confirmation would only be received towards the Hajj dates.

“.. when the situation presents itself, [they said] they will give priority to the Maldives as well. I hope that there will be some sort of an increase. That increase will come very close [to the Hajj dates]. There is a possiblity of some increase. [We] hope for that,” he said.

Contrary to previous administrations, President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s government has taken back all the Hajj quota slots from private groups which previously arranged Hajj trips for locals. The decision was made due to these groups charging exorbitant amounts for the service, the government said.

As of now, all the Hajj quota slots for Maldives is under the Maldives Hajj Corporation.

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