Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Government has secured certainty for sending 241 thousand people to Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage, based on an agreement reached with the government of the gulf state on Monday (January 8).

According to a press release received here on Tuesday, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas and Saudi Arabian Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq F. al-Rabiah met to sign the Pilgrims Affairs Agreement for the Year 1445 H (2024 AD).

"We have agreed on several matters with Saudi Arabia, including one confirming that Indonesia will be permitted to send 241 thousand Hajj pilgrims," Minister Qoumas remarked in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.

He reiterated that the total figure encompasses 221 thousand people of the initial quota and 20 thousand people of the additional quota approved by the King of Saudi Arabia.

The additional quota was secured by Indonesian President Joko Widodo during his bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabian Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud in October last year.

"This is the highest number ever recorded in terms of Indonesia's quota for Hajj pilgrims," Qoumas noted.

Based on data from the Religious Affairs Ministry, Indonesia was granted a quota of 231 thousand people for the 2019 Hajj Pilgrimage.

After deciding to not send pilgrims due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Indonesia only acquired a quota of 100,051 pilgrims for the 2022 Hajj pilgrimage on account of restrictions aimed at controlling the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Indonesia secured a quota of 229 thousand Hajj pilgrims last year.

Minister Qoumas further remarked that the Indonesian and Saudi governments had also agreed to improve services for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims.

"Praise be to God, the Saudi Arabian Government has approved our requests to further improve Hajj services," he stated.

Qoumas cited as an example that Indonesia will be able to place its pilgrims' tents closer to the location for a procession called "the stoning of the devil" in Mina.

The Saudi Government has also enabled the Government of Indonesia to pick service providers for the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage, he noted.

"These are remarkable innovations from the Saudi Arabian Government," he concluded.

Minister al-Rabiah, for his part, expressed Saudi Arabia's commitment to continue to provide the finest services to Indonesian Hajj pilgrims.

He stated that the Government of Saudi Arabia will always welcome suggestions and inputs to further improve the quality of Hajj services.

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Translator: Asep F, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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