India and Saudi Arabia signed a bilateral agreement under which New Delhi has been allocated a quota of 175,025 pilgrims for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2024.
Smriti Irani, India’s Minority Affairs Minister, accompanied by India’s minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan, signed the Bilateral Haj Agreement 2024 with Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan in Jeddah on Sunday.
A total quota of 175,025 pilgrims from India has been finalised for Hajj 2024 with 140,020 seats being reserved for pilgrims to proceed through Haj Committee whereas 35,005 pilgrims would be permitted to proceed through private operators, PTI reported, citing an official statement.
“Pleased to announce the formalisation of the Bilateral Haj Agreement 2024 between India and Saudi Arabia. I, along with Hon’ble MoS for External Affairs, Shri @MOS_MEA, presided over the signing. Also engaged in productive discussions on matters of mutual interest with @tfrabiah, Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Affairs,” Ms. Irani said in a post on X.
Pleased to announce the formalisation of the Bilateral Haj Agreement 2024 between India and Saudi Arabia.— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) January 7, 2024
I, along with Hon'ble MoS for External Affairs, Shri @MOS_MEA, presided over the signing. Also engaged in productive discussions on matters of mutual interest with… pic.twitter.com/xU6eIlnzHB
She said the Saudi delegation expressed sincere appreciation for India’s exceptional digital initiatives, particularly in providing essential last-mile information to pilgrims.
“Our proposal to encourage the participation of women without Mehram in the Hajj pilgrimage further underscores our commitment to inclusivity,” she added.
Discussions also encompassed plans for the enhancement of medical facilities, ensuring the comprehensive well-being of all pilgrims, she said.
“I deeply value the collaborative spirit exhibited during these deliberations and eagerly anticipate the continued fortification of our bilateral relations.”
Irani and Muraleedharan later visited the Hajj Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, to oversee the arrangements for pilgrims and explore ways to facilitate better logistics and monitoring mechanisms for their convenience.
Visited King Abdulaziz International Airport's Haj Terminal in Jeddah @KAIAirport today to assess ground support systems and coordination between Saudi authorities and the Indian consulate.— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) January 7, 2024
Explored ways to enhance logistics and monitoring mechanisms for a seamless Haj… pic.twitter.com/geL0blsw10
They also met with Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş, President of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in Türkiye and Dr. Hj. Na’im bin Hj. Mokhtar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) separately on the sidelines of the signing of the bilateral.
During the meetings, experiences on Hajj management and administration were shared and there was an exchange of ideas on best practices with the respective counterparts.
Irani, who arrived in Jeddah on a two-day visit, will also meet the Indian business community and Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, she will attend the opening ceremony of the third edition of ‘Hajj and Umrah Conference’ in Jeddah being organised by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Affairs.