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India and Saudi Arabia signed the Bilateral Annual Haj 2018 Agreement

Published on January 09, 2018
The Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi mentioned that Saudi Arabia had given a green signal for India’s decision to revive the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route.

India and Saudi Arabia signed the Bilateral Annual Haj 2018 Agreement

  • The officials of both India and Saudi Arabia will discuss on all necessary formalities and technicalities so that the Haj pilgrimage through the sea route can be started in the upcoming years.
  • A Bilateral Annual Haj 2018 Agreement was signed between India and Saudi Arabia.
  • The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped since 1995.
  • India and Saudi Arabia share the ideals of global peace, progress and prosperity. Haj pilgrimage is one of the strongest pillars of India-Saudi Arabia ties.

Provisions for women

  • More than 1300 women have applied to go for Haj without male ‘Mehram’ (a male guardian) and all of them will be exempted from lottery system and be allowed to proceed to Haj. For the first time Muslim women can go to Haj without Mehram.
  • According to the new policy, women above 45 years of age who wish to go for haj but do not have a male companion are allowed to travel for Haj in groups of 4 or more women.
  • Separate transportation and accommodation facilities have been arranged for these women Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and women ‘Haj Assistant’ will be deployed for their assistance.

Benefits of the Agreement

Mr Naqvi further mentioned that sending pilgrims through the sea route will help cut down expenses significantly. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision.
Another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4000 to 5000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2300 odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just 3-4 days. Earlier the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.

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