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Half of Maldives pilgrims could miss Hajj after Saudi rescinds 1,000 slots

Mohamed Visham
01 August 2016, MVT 15:39
Muslim pilgrims walk around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in September 2015. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mohamed Visham
01 August 2016, MVT 15:39

More than half of the Maldivian pilgrims face the threat of missing out on Hajj pilgrimage this year, after the Saudi government withdrew 1,000 quota given to the island nation.

The Saudi government officially allocates 1,000 pilgrims from the Maldives every year. However, under a special allowance by the Saudi King, Maldives has been receiving an additional 1,000 slotsĀ for the past three years.

Mihaaru understands that the Islamic Ministry has been asking ruling party lawmakers to cancel some of the slots given to them due to the delay in getting the 1,000 slots.

In May this year, the Saudi Embassy accredited to the Maldives had assured the Maldives foreign ministry of the 2,000 slots for this year.

However, the embassy has now informed the Maldives government of the decision to rescind half of the slots.

Mihaaru has also learned that the Saudi authorities have only provided usernames and passwords from the official database for only 1,000 pilgrims.

The five licensed private Hajj groups said the Islamic ministry is yet to inform of any issue with the Hajj quota. But the groups admitted that the usernames and passwords for the pilgrims are yet to be received.

Maldives Islamic ministry has formally written to its Saudi counterparts in a bid to resolve the issue.

In the letter, the ministry has said the Hajj groups had already chartered flights and booked hotels based on the 2,000 slots pledged to the Maldives.

Maldives Islamic minister Ziyad Bagir had sent a letter to his Saudi counterpart conveying the decision to cancel of half of the quota.

Mihaaru understands that 12 days after the letter was sent, the issue remains unresolved.

Mihaaru has been unable to obtain comment from the minister over the issue while the Islamic ministry refused to comment.

Maldives Hajj pilgrims are scheduled to depart on August 15.

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