Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The quota for hajj pilgrims from Indonesia in 2017 is back to the usual 221,000 pilgrims, after this had been slashed by the Saudi government for the last few years due to the Haram Grand Mosques expansion project, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin declared.

"The President has announced that the quota for Indonesia in 2017 would be 221,000 pilgrims. It means an additional 52,200 pilgrims can go for hajj this year, compared to the previous years," Saifuddin tweeted, Wednesday.

With the hajj quota back to the usual number, he urged agencies facilitating hajj pilgrimages to improve their services.

Earlier on January 3, the minister signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi government on the preparation for the hajj pilgrimage.

However, after the visit to Saudi, Saifuddin was silent on the issue of hajj quota, despite news reports at home and in Saudi Arabia stating that the quota for Indonesia would be back to the usual number.

Indonesias annual hajj quota was slashed by 20 percent, or 166,000, from 210,000 pilgrims in recent years due to the expansion project of the Haram Grand Mosque.

The restoration of normal quota for the Indonesian hajj pilgrims will have a major impact on the services offered to the countrys citizens going on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, Saifuddin remarked.

During his meeting with Saudi Hajj Minister, Saifuddin conveyed several issues regarding bilateral cooperation for the hajj pilgrimage.

The minister has asked his counterpart to provide better tents and air conditioning in Arafah and establish cafeteria in hotels to help Indonesian pilgrims get meals.

The minister has also asked for an improvement in bus services on the Masyair (Arafah-Muzdalifah-Mina) route, the establishment of an emergency post in Mina, and wheelchair services from Mina to Jamarat.

Saifuddin has asked local pilgrimage agents to improve their services in Mina, and provide adequate toilets for pilgrims.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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