There will be more places this year for Muslims in Singapore who want to perform the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
The haj quota for pilgrims from Singapore, set by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Haj and Umrah, will increase from 800 to 900 places this year, it was announced yesterday by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim. He said he had received the "very good news" from the Saudi authorities.
Due to extensive development and upgrading projects taking place in the vicinity of the Holy Mosque in Mecca, Singapore was allocated 680 haj places annually between 2012 and 2016. Last year, the number of spots was increased to 800.
More places were allocated this year because some parts of the construction have been completed.
All eligible haj registrants have been contacted by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) about the additional places available. The haj period is between Aug 13 and Sept 10.
Dr Yaacob also gave an update on the bus accident involving 27 Singaporeans in Mecca on Tuesday.
Haji Abu Bakar Osman, 64, was killed in the accident while his wife, Hajah Fauziah Alias, 63, remains in hospital. Another Singaporean was discharged from hospital on Thursday, while the rest of the pilgrims suffered minor injuries and are due to return home. The family of Mr Abu Bakar have travelled to Mecca to witness his burial.
Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security, said: "We hope that the family can find closure in this and we will do our very best to continue to support the family and other families who are being affected in this incident."
He was speaking at the project launch of Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah's new campus, which will have an outdoor science space and two labs. The five-storey campus at 3, Lorong 6 Toa Payoh will cost about $17 million to build and have a site area equivalent to about 20 five-room Housing Board flats.
Construction will start in the second quarter of this year and the campus is to be operationally ready by December next year.