IPOH, March 30 — The Haj quota for Malaysians is unlikely to be increased this year due to the lack of infrastructure facilities such as accommodation and other constraints faced by the Saudi Arabian government.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad said the matter was informed by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Haj and Umrah, Taufiq Fawaan Al-Rabiah when he attended the Hajj and Umrah Conference and Exhibition in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia recently.
“Of course, that is our request and expectation that it (Haj quota) can be increased but they also have constraints including in terms of hotel accommodation because many more hotels there are not open.
“So, they (the Saudi Arabian government) can no longer guarantee all countries (about the Haj quota),” he said when met by reporters after presenting donations to 21 flood and storm victims around Sungai Rokam here today.
On Sunday, the local Haj package industry players had expressed hope that the Saudi Arabian government could increase the quota for Malaysians to perform the Haj from the previous one, which was 32,000 pilgrims.
TH Travel & Services Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Ruzman Ahmad Razali was reported to have said this was because, since 2019, no pilgrims were allowed to enter the holy land due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, Idris said Lembaga Tabung Haji had made thorough preparations for the upcoming Haj season so that all the affairs of the pilgrims could be carried out smoothly and in an orderly manner.
According to him, every pilgrim will need to download the Saudi Visa Bio application on their respective smartphones.
He said the application was to facilitate the passport, face and fingerprint (biometric) scanning system before the Haj and umrah pilgrims in the country left for the Holy Land.
He said pilgrims had to perform four simple steps, namely updating their email address, international passport scan, face scan and ten-finger scans to be uploaded into the system.
“This application makes it easier for pilgrims and they would not have to queue for hours like before,” he said. — Bernama