Haj quota for Singapore increased to 800 this year

ST VIDEO: TAY HONG YI
The number of haj places for pilgrims from Singapore will be increased to 800 this year, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said.
The number of haj places for pilgrims from Singapore will be increased to 800 this year, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The number of haj places for Muslim pilgrims from Singapore will be increased to 800 this year, up from the current 680.

At the haj ministerial meeting in Saudi Arabia last year attended by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore had also submitted a request to further increase the quota to 1,000.

Dr Yaacob announced the new quota numbers yesterday on the sidelines of a tour to review ongoing upgrades to Al-Khair Mosque in Teck Whye Crescent.

The upgrades, which encompass barrier-free accessibility upgrades and 500 more prayer spaces, are slated to be completed by the second quarter of this year.

Dr Yaacob said Singapore had appealed in 2012 for an increase in the quota for a total of 800 pilgrims a year.

"We put in the appeal in 2012 and the Saudi authorities have taken some time, which we understand, because of the expansion works that are taking place in Mecca and Medina," he told the media.

"What we are now interested (in) is for the Saudi authorities to give us the additional quota, because there is a long queue and we hope we can... relieve (it) as much as possible."

A quota system was introduced in 1987 to limit the number of pilgrims descending upon Mecca over safety and infrastructural concerns.

Last year, 1.8 million pilgrims went for the haj.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Haj quota for Singapore increased to 800 this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe