Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten and India’s Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi have signed a bilateral Hajj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia on this Sunday.
“Saudi Arabia has given its nod to revive the option of sending pilgrims by sea route. Officials from both the countries will discuss all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years,” Naqvi said according to the statement.
Naqvi said that sending pilgrims via sea route would cut down the travel expenses significantly and would be a great help to poor people. He said that it is a ‘revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision’.
Initially it was made legal for the Muslim women above 45 yrs to go for Hajj without ‘mahram’ and now this news comes as a boon to all the pilgrims.
“Separate accommodation and transport have been arranged for these woman Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and woman Haj assistants will be deployed for their assistance,” Naqvi said for all those more than 1300 women who will be travelling without men.
More than 1,300 women have applied to go for Haj without ‘Mehram’. All these women will be exempted from lottery system and allowed to proceed to Haj, he added.
The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways existed earlier too, but was stopped from 1995.