At least 265k more can go on haj this year

There will be at least 265,000 more international haj pilgrims this year, said Singapore Pilgrims' Affairs Office (SPAO) director Muhammad Nasir Johari yesterday.

Speaking at this year's haj pre-departure briefing at the Singapore Expo, he said the higher number is due to Saudi Arabia's government reinstating at least 20 per cent of quota of pilgrims for all countries. More than two million pilgrims from around the world are expected to perform the haj this year.

Mr Muhammad Nasir urged pilgrims to communicate with their travel agents or with their officials so that in cases of crisis, "the (SPAO) will be able to coordinate things very smoothly and also to allay any fears that family members may have back home in Singapore".

"Families at home can also follow the Singaporean pilgrims' movement... via the Haj.SG Facebook page and Instagram," he added.

A statement by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) yesterday revealed that all 800 places allocated to local pilgrims have been filled up.

Mr Taufek Siniwi, 49, his wife and their two children are among the Singaporean pilgrims this year.

He said the family has some concerns about the weather, crowd and safety there.

"However, the officials have told us not to worry," he added. "They will pay attention to us and ensure that all pilgrims will perform the haj safety. We were also told to be alert at all times, to always stick together and adhere to instructions."

SPAO head Farihullah Abdul Wahab Safiullah said he will work alongside a team comprising two officers from Muis accompanied by five medical officers, 10 nursing officers and five assistant pilgrim officers, all volunteers.

The pilgrims' first flight to Saudi Arabia will depart from Singapore on Aug 9. Subsequent flights will depart from Aug 18 to 26.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 30, 2017, with the headline 'At least 265k more can go on haj this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe