241,000 and Counting: Indonesia to send largest-ever number of Hajj pilgrims this year

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Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas and Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah sign a pilgrimage agreement in Jeddah on Jan. 8, 2024. (Ministry of Religious Affairs)
241,000 Indonesian pilgrims will perform the Hajj this year

New quota will help shorten the wait for elderly Indonesian pilgrims
Indonesia will send its largest-ever Hajj contingent to Saudi Arabia this year, the Ministry of Religious Affairs said on Tuesday, after the Kingdom approved the 2024 quota of 241,000 Indonesian pilgrims.
Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas signed a pilgrimage agreement with Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah in Jeddah on Monday, under which the world’s largest Muslim-majority country’s Hajj quota has been increased by 20,000 from 221,000 last year.

“We agreed on several things with Saudi Arabia. One of them is the number of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims who will be departing (this year), which will be 241,000 people,” Qoumas said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“This quota is the biggest in Indonesia’s history of managing Hajj pilgrimages.”

The highest quota in previous years came before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019, when Saudi Arabia approved a quota of 231,000 pilgrims for Indonesia.

This year’s additional quota will help shorten the wait for some pilgrims by a few years, which is especially important for elderly pilgrims. Many in Indonesia need to wait up to 45 years for their turn, according to official estimates.

“For the government, a bigger quota is extremely important and it has always been something we fight for … this additional quota will be extremely beneficial as it will shorten the existing queue,” Masduki Baidlowi, spokesperson to Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, told Arab News.

“Many Indonesian pilgrims are getting older. If the queue becomes longer, many die before their dream of performing the Hajj comes true. That’s one issue. The second is that the older pilgrims get, the more likely they are to become sick or to fall while they are performing the pilgrimage.”

Baidlowi added that the new quota reflects a new era in Indonesia-Saudi relations, which is visible in many aspects of bilateral ties.
“We can say that relations between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are in their golden age of diplomacy,” he said.
SOURCE: ARAB NEWS