Saudi vision offers more for haj and 'umrah' pilgrims
The Jakarta Post
The Saudi Arabia economic blueprint for 2030 includes plans to improve the services the kingdom offers to visitors embarking on haj and umrah (minor haj), including boosting capacity to accommodate up to 30 million pilgrims per year.
Vision 2030, first unveiled in September, recognizes the role that the kingdom plays as the custodian of two mosques considered holy by Muslims, one in Mecca and another in Medina.
The authorities will spare no effort in ensuring comfort and safety as the number of pilgrims grows in the coming years, a Saudi embassy official in Jakarta said on Monday.
“We will never compromise on the security of the pilgrims,” Badr Mohammed Al-Hujani, the embassy's head of media, said.
“We reject any attempt to politicize or internationalize haj,” he said.
Indonesia, as the country with the largest Muslim population, will be a prime target for the Saudi campaign to increase the number of pilgrims, both during haj and for those going on umrah.
Indonesia already sends the largest contingent of haj pilgrims with a quota of 221,00 people this year. The quota will increase following the completion of new facilities, with ongoing development projects in both Mecca and Medina.
Indonesia, according to Saudi figures, sends the second largest number of umrah pilgrims after Pakistan, with around 850,000 people traveling last year. The number is expected to grow further as more Indonesians join the ranks of the middle class with an appetite for foreign travel.
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