Yaacob visits Singapore pilgrims in Mecca ahead of Hari Raya Haji

SINGAPORE - Ahead of Hari Raya Haji on Friday (Sep 1), Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim has arrived in Saudi Arabia, where he paid a visit to the delegation from Singapore for the haj - the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

"They tell me that they are well settled and ready to embark on the haj rites. I am happy that our pilgrims are safe, in good health and in high spirits, as they make preparations for the peak of Haj tomorrow," he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Aug 29).

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information , is leading the Singapore delegation, as a gesture of the Singapore Government's appreciation to Saudi Arabia for Singapore's revised haj quota, and as commemoration of 40 years of bilateral ties.

Haj quotas - the number of pilgrims allowed by the Saudi government from each country - were reduced worldwide by 20 per cent in 2013 due to construction works near the Holy Mosque in Mecca.

In February, it was announced that the quota for Singaporean haj pilgrims had been increased to 800, up from 680 previously, a move the Singapore Government had been appealing for since 2013.

Dr Yaacob said that he met Dr Mohammad Saleh Taher Benten, the Saudi Minister for Haj and Umrah on Monday (Aug 28).

" It is with the excellent services and help rendered by the Saudi Haj Ministry as well as other Saudi Haj agencies such as the Muassasah Southeast Asian Pilgrims that all pilgrims are able to perform their Hajj peacefully," he wrote.

"I am also thankful to the Saudi Haj Authority for assisting and granting Singapore's request to continue extending the Singapore Pilgrims' Affairs Office's medical services to our fellow Australian pilgrims as well."