The government has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia over Hajj, and it hopes that over 1.27 lakh Bangladeshis will be able to perform Hajj this year.
The age limit for Hajj pilgrims has been lifted by the Saudi government – paving the way for people over 65 to go for the significant pilgrimage.
State Minister for Religious Affairs Faridul Haque Khan and Saudi Hajj and Umrah Affairs Minister Dr Tawfiq Bin Al Rabiah signed the agreement at 10 am today in Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective countries, Abul Kashem Muhammad Shaheen, deputy secretary of the Religious Affairs Ministry, told UNB.
According to the agreement, 15,000 people will be able to go to Hajj under government management while 1,12,198 can go under private management. The remaining 1,270 pilgrims can go to Saudi Arabia as members of the Hajj team (administrative and medical).
Earlier on January 7, a three-member team led by state minister Faridul Haque Khan left for Saudi Arabia.
On November 13, 2022, Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed a bilateral document on ‘Route to Mecca’ which will ease the visit of Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims to the kingdom.
Under the 'Route to Mecca' service agreement, pilgrims would be able to complete their immigration in Dhaka prior to their departure to Saudi Arabia.
Seventy percent of pilgrims will travel through Jeddah while 30 percent through Madinah, it said, adding that Hajj pilgrims must receive Covid-19 vaccine before departure.
According to the ministry, 1, 27,000 people from Bangladesh performed Hajj in 2019 while the Saudi government increased the quota for Bangladeshi pilgrims by 10,000 in 2020. But Hajj was not held in the year for Covid-19 pandemic.
Only 60,000 people from Bangladesh were allowed to perform Hajj in 2022 as the Saudi government halved the quotas for pilgrims in different countries.