Malaysian Foreign Minister to discuss pilgrimage quota with Saudi
Malaysian and Saudi Foreign ministers will meet to strengthen ties
The Malaysian Foreign Minister will meet with the Saudi minister this week, to strengthen ties between the two countries. The Star reported that the pilgrimage quota for Hajj and Umrah would also be discussed at this meeting, which will outline how many pilgrims from Malaysia could be expected as guests to the Haramain. The Malaysian minister Hishammuddin Hussein will meet with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud this Thursday, 18th of Feb.
Travel from Malaysia to Saudi is not suspended
Previously, we reported that Saudi Arabia had suspended international travel from 20 countries, from the 3rd of Feb. Malaysia was not one of the countries on this list. 2019 statistics showed that Asian countries sent the highest number of international pilgrims to for Umrah, and Malaysia was among them. The other three were Pakistan, Indonesia and India.
Will Hajj be open in 2021?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is yet to announce whether Hajj will be open this year and what this will look like. However, it has been reported that Saudi Arabia and its health authorities have begun to make preparations for Hajj 2021, in terms of getting the staff needed to facilitate Hajj in a safe way.
A comparison of Hajj in 2020 with 2019
Hajj 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, welcomed nearly 2.5 million pilgrims. Arab News reported that the exact number was 2,489,406. In comparison, the 2020 Hajj welcomed just 10,000 pilgrims, with the necessary infection prevention measures against coronavirus. This included the use of facemasks, hand sanitizers and social distancing, throughout the Hajj process.
It is not known what exact precautions will be taken if Hajj takes place this year. Compared to 2020, there has been the advent of new, more severe strains of coronavirus. However, there has also been the rollout of the vaccination programme to bring about immunity. The second phase of this programme will begin on the 18th of Feb, where more categories of people will receive the vaccine.
By Nasria Begum
- Article from The Star, pilgrimage quota
- Arab News article, Asian countries, highest pilgrim numbers
- Arab News article on Hajj 2019
- Al-Arabiya article on phase 2 of vaccination programme
Would you like to go to Hajj this year?
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