Jakarta (ANTARA) - Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, on early Thursday, took off to Saudi Arabia to check preparations for the implementation of the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage and learn about regulations concerning backpackers' Umrah.

Umrah refers to a pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time, in contrast with Hajj that must be undertaken on specific dates of the year. Specifically, backpackers' Umrah is a pilgrimage carried out independently without using services offered by travel agents and Umrah organizers.

"I want to check the progress in Hajj preparations in Saudi Arabia. In addition, I seek to learn about Saudi Arabia's regulations on backpackers' Umrah, which has become an issue," he noted in a statement issued by his office in Jakarta.

He emphasized that the Ministry of Religious Affairs had continued to streamline preparations for this year's Hajj pilgrimage services, including in terms of transportation, accommodation, and food.

Speaking of backpackers' Umrah, Qoumas plans to check the conformity between regulations implemented by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

During a meeting with Commission VIII of the House of Representatives, on March 18, the minister emphasized the need to devise regulations that can adjust to the increasing popularity of backpackers' Umrah.

"Such regulations are needed to ensure the health, safety, and comfort of Indonesian Umrah pilgrims, including those choosing independent Umrah," he remarked.

He expressed hope that Indonesia would have appropriate, on-point, and well-formulated regulations that can ensure protection for all Indonesian Umrah pilgrims.

To support the formulation of the regulations, he said, the Religious Affairs Ministry would coordinate with Hajj and Umrah organizers.

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Translator: Asep F, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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