Indonesia asks for increase hajj quota

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has asked for an additional quota of 27,600 Haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia because its quota for 211,000 pilgrims remained similar that in 2010, a minister said.

Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali said here on Monday, if the request is approved by the government of Saudi Arabia, the Indonesian Hajj quota for 2011 would increase to 238.6 thousand people, which he said was the ideal number if formula one pilgrim for each of 1,000 population.

"The Government continues to ask for additional quota to the Saudi government. We`ve sent a letter asking for an additional 27,600 pilgrims," he said.

Indonesia`s request might be granted because in principle the government of Saudi Arabia was willing to comply it but it seems to be still considering shortage of facilities.

"That`s why they have not yet accepted the request," he said.

The 211,000 hajj quota for 2011 consisted of 194 thousand regular pilgrims and 17 thousand pilgrims under a special pilgrimage program.

The addition of the quota, if approved, is expected to shorten the time of waiting for about one million would-be hajj pilgrims in the waiting list. The time of waiting for them at present reached 12 years.

The minister guaranteed hajj service to pilgrims this year would be better than that of the previous year, the more so because Indonesian hajj would stay within Ring I which was not more than 2,500 meters from the Haram mosque.(*)