Over 1,500 Lankan Muslims set to go on Hajj

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Over 1,500 Sri Lankan Muslims will be able to perform Hajj in 2022. This was discussed at a meeting between the Hajj Travellers Association (HTA) and Environment Minister Naseer Ahmed.

This year the Saudi Government will allow one million Hajj pilgrims from Sri Lanka and the rest of the world. Previously, the Government limited the number of pilgrims to a few thousands with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When contacted yesterday (26) Minister Ahmad said that 1,585 Sri Lankan Muslims would be given the opportunity to perform Hajj this year in consultation with Saudi authorities.

He noted that Muslims who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime had missed out due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the latter part of 2019, and that the situation is gradually returning to normalcy.

Former President of HTA, M. R. M. Farook yesterday said those who met Minister Ahmed brought to his attention that Hajj quotas issued to Sri Lanka was very low in 2022 compared to previous years and he had made a request to the Minister to consider possibilities of broadening the quota.

Farook added that Minister Ahmed has promised to take necessary action in consultation with the relevant authorities.  

However, with the increasing number of pilgrims, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has said that only pilgrims who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and are under the age of 65 will be allowed to travel to the holy city of Mecca.

Meanwhile, Hajj travel operators complained that they are facing difficulties making payments in US dollars as the country is experiencing severe shortages in foreign reserves.

Minister Ahmed promised travel operators that he would make every step within his capacity.

By Naalir Jamaldeen