Sept 19, Colombo: Saudi authorities have raised Sri Lanka’s quota for the upcoming Hajj to 3,800 pilgrims, which is an increase of 1,000 over the allotted number.
Speaking from Colombo, senior minister in charge of Sri Lankan Hajj operations Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie told Arab News that this year first timers would be given preference in the pilgrims’ selection process.
“We have also made an appeal to the concerned parties to get an additional quota of pilgrims this year. We might consider the other applicants only if there is a positive response from the Saudi government,” the minister said, adding that the government has already received applications from more than 5,000 prospective pilgrims.
Around seven percent of the country’s 20.2 million inhabitants are Muslim.
Saudi Arabian Airlines and SriLankan Airlines will ferry the pilgrims. “Other airlines will be considered as and when a need arises,” the Minister said.
The first batch of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave for the Kingdom on October 6. The minister said his government had formed two teams in Makkah and Madinah to assist the pilgrims.