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Yaacob wants Singapore's haj quota to increase to about 800

It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
It was an emotional farewell for pilgrims as they embarked on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with pilgrims embarking on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with pilgrims embarking on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with pilgrims embarking on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with pilgrims embarking on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with pilgrims embarking on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. If an appeal by Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim to the Saudi Arabian authorities is successful, the
Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim with pilgrims embarking on their Haj pilgrimage at Changi Airport on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013. If an appeal by Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim to the Saudi Arabian authorities is successful, the official quota for Haj pilgrims will increase to about 800. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

If an appeal by Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim to the Saudi Arabian authorities is successful, the official quota for Haj pilgrims will increase to about 800.

The figure has been 680 since the quota was introduced several years ago.

Mr Yaacob announced the number on Sunday morning when sending off a batch of 24 pilgrims at Changi Airport.

The numbers shrank to 544 earlier this year because of expansion works in the holy mosque in Makkah.

Meanwhile, it was an emotional farewell for pilgrims who managed to go this year, and many were seen in tears. Ms Intan Salwah Badiuzzaman, 40, one of the pilgrims about to make the journey, said it was heartening to know the numbers may increase.

"I was one of those who couldn't go in 2011, so I can totally relate to those wanting to go. We surely welcome this with open arms."

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