Saudi Arabia has approved India’s plan to revive the option of ferrying Haj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah. In this regard, both countries have signed bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement.
The agreement was signed by Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Haj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Saleh bin TaherBenten at Makkah.
The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped in 1995. Sending pilgrims through through sea route will help cut down travel expenses significantly. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision.
Moreover, ships now available are more modern and well-equipped to ferry 4000 to 5000 persons at time. They can cover 2300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just 3-4 days. Earlier, old ships used to take 12 to 15 days.
India and Saudi Arabia share ideals of global peace, progress and prosperity. Haj pilgrimage is one of strongest pillars of India-Saudi Arabia ties. Till now, around 3 lakh 59 thousand application have been received for Haj 2018.
Recently, Union Government for first time had notified that Indian Muslim Women can now go to Haj without male companion (Mehram). Separate accommodation and transport facilities will be arranged for these women pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and women Haj assistant will be deployed for them.