India, Saudi Arabia sign bilateral annual Haj 2019 agreement

India and Saudi Arabia on December 13, 2018, signed the bilateral annual Haj 2019 agreement at Jeddah. The agreement was signed by the Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Haj and Umrah Minister of Saudi Arabia, Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten.

The agreement is a part of strengthened bilateral relations of the two countries. Both India and Saudi Arabia share strong cultural, historical, economic and political relations. Speaking on the same, the Saudi Minister said that Saudi Arabia has always played an active and effective role to ensure safety and better facilities to the Indian Haj pilgrims.

The Minister also thanked the custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz for his guidance and active support to make Haj 2018, successful. He said that the Indian Government in coordination and cooperation with Saudi Arabia Government, Indian Consulate and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities, medical facilities for the pilgrims during Haj 2019.

Key Highlights

1. A large number of Muslim women are likely to go to Haj 2019 without “Mehram” (male companion). More than 2100 women have already applied.
2. The Indian Government had lifted the ban on women going to Haj without a male companion for the first time in 2017.
3. As a result of the ban, around 1300 Indian Muslim women had gone to Haj in 2018 without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system.
4. To assist these women Haj pilgrims, for the first time, more than 100 women Haj Coordinators and Haj Assistants had been deployed in 2018.
5. Currently, the Haj Committee of India has received more than 2 lakh 47 thousand applications for Haj 2019, among which 47 per cent are from women.
6. For the first time after Independence, a record number of Muslims (1,75,025) from India performed Haj 2018 and that too without any subsidy and among them 48 per cent were women.
7. The Indian Government has requested the Saudi Arabian Government to increase India’s annual Haj quota for Haj 2019.

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