India and Saudi Arabia on 7 January 2018 signed the bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement, giving the green signal for India’s decision to revive the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also.
The agreement was signed by Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Haj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Mohammad Saleh bin TaherBenten at Makkah.
Now, after the signing of the agreement, officials from both the countries will discuss on all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years.
Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses significantly. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision.
Moreover, these days, the ships available are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4000 to 5000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just 3-4 days. Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days.
The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped in 1995.
Indian Muslim Women can now go to Haj without male companion
For the first time Muslim women from India can go to Haj without “Mehram” (male companion). Separate accommodation and transport has been arranged for these women Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and women “Haj Assistant” will be deployed for their assistance.
More more than 1300 women have applied to go for Haj without male “Mehram” and all of these women will be exempted from lottery system and allowed to proceed to Haj.
Women above 45 years of age, who wish to go for Haj but who don’t have a male companion, are allowed to travel for Haj in groups of 4 or more women.
India and Saudi Arabia share the ideals of global peace, progress and prosperity. Haj pilgrimage is one of the strongest pillars of India-Saudi Arabia ties.
Till now, around 3 lakh 59 thousand application have been received for Haj 2018. For the first time, Union Government has given option to Haj pilgrims to opt for another embarkation point. This will ensure that there is no financial burden on Haj pilgrims even after removal of Haj subsidy.
When: 8 January 2018