PM Lee Hsien Loong meets Saudi Crown Prince at G-20, hopes haj quota for Singaporeans will be raised

Muslims preparing to depart for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to perform the annual haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Sept 5, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

OSAKA - In a meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Friday (June 28), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed his hope that more Singaporeans will be allowed to perform the annual haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

The quota for Singaporean pilgrims, set by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia, was increased from 800 places in 2017 to 900 places last year.

PM Lee met the Crown Prince on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit, which is taking place in Osaka. He raised the haj quota issue following the Crown Prince's briefing on Saudi Arabia's drive to boost tourism.

During their meeting, both leaders also discussed ways to elevate bilateral relations and deepen cooperation over a range of issues, said a spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office.

The Crown Prince gave PM Lee an update on Vision 2030, a plan to reduce his nation's dependence on oil and transform its economy. This included how Singapore companies were well-placed to participate in the opportunities stemming from the plan, such as in the tourism, finance and petrochemical sectors.

They also exchanged views on how Singapore can contribute to Saudi Arabia's upcoming G-20 Presidency next year.

PM Lee also thanked the Crown Prince for his hospitality when then Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam visited Saudi Arabia in January.

He added that President Halimah Yacob was looking forward to her state visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of this year, and renewed an invitation to the Crown Prince to visit Singapore.

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