Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas has informed that his ministry will expedite preparations for the 2023 Hajj pilgrimage following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Hajj and Umrah Ministry of Saudi Arabia.
“Alhamdulillah (thank God), my working visit to Saudi Arabia ran well. Now that there is clarity on the Hajj quota, we will rev up preparations to be able to provide the best service to pilgrims,” he said in a written statement received on Friday.
Even though the quota has been set early, there is not much time available, he noted. Moreover, this year will be the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit that Indonesia will carry out the Hajj pilgrimage with a full quota.
It is planned that next Monday, the Ministry of Religious Affairs will hold a coordination meeting with related officials to discuss strategic steps for organizing the 2023 Hajj pilgrimage.
“We will also immediately prepare for a working meeting with Commission VIII of the House of Representatives (DPR) because the cost of organizing the Hajj pilgrimage must also be determined immediately so that (prospective) pilgrims can make payments immediately. Inshallah (if God wills), the meeting with Commission VIII of the DPR is scheduled for January 19, 2023,” he said.
Besides the pilgrimage cost, the meeting with Commission VIII will also discuss the utilization of the Hajj quota, especially for elderly pilgrims, because, in 2022, many older adults could not join the pilgrimage due to the enforced age limitation.
Moreover, due to the pandemic, there was no pilgrimage in 2020 and 2021, which led to many of the prospective pilgrims not getting their turn to carry out the pilgrimage.
“I have asked all staff of the Hajj and Umrah Implementation Directorate General to prepare various schemes and mechanisms early, including preparing officers who are professional in serving the pilgrims,” he remarked.
The ministry is continuing to strive to expand the Hajj quota. Currently, the quota has been set at 221 thousand: with 203,320 slots for regular Hajj pilgrims and 17,680 for special Hajj pilgrims.
“Communication with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia continues to be carried out. Inshallah, there is still a chance for an addition (of quota),” he said.