Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are looking for ways to reduce the Hajj waiting time to cater to the increasing number of Muslims seeking to perform the ritual, the Religious Affairs Ministry has said.

"At present, the Saudi and Indonesian authorities are discussing the most proper way to reduce the Hajj waiting list worldwide, including in Indonesia," the ministry's Director General of Hajj and Umrah Hilman Latief said at the FMB9 online discussion here on Monday.

Latief pointed out that several proposals to reduce the Hajj waiting time were made during the latest conference on Hajj hosted in Saudi Arabia last January.

The first two proposals involved raising the annual Hajj pilgrim quota from 2–3 million currently and setting up two-storey tents at Mina -- where pilgrims stay day-long to perform rituals.

"I see that tents in Mina will be raised, yet it remains an issue among Saudi ulemas who contend whether the tents can be raised (to two stories) or not, or whether it is justified by Islamic law or not," Latief explained.

The next proposal is to cut the night stay time at Muzdalifah to only a few hours while waiting to depart for the jamarat site -- where the Stoning of the Devil ritual takes place -- to manage the pilgrims' entry and exit flows.

"The issue will be how to manage the flow of pilgrims from various countries to the jamarat site before returning to their hotels," the official said.

He emphasized that all scheme proposals are not final yet as they require further assessment in several aspects.

A Hajj pilgrim quota of 221 thousand has been allotted for Indonesia for the 2023 Hajj season. It comprises slots for 203,320 pilgrims in the regular program and 17,680 special Hajj pilgrims.

The total quota also includes 190,897 regular pilgrims, 10,166 elderly priority pilgrims, 685 Hajj and Umrah guides, and 1,572 regional officers for Hajj.

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Translator: Asep Firmansyah, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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