India and Saudi Arabia have signed the bilateral agreement to increase the quota of Haj pilgrims from 2018.
Speaking about the agreement, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Saudi Arabia has given the green signal for India’s decision to revive the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also and officials from both the countries will discuss on all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years.
A decision in this regard was taken during the signing of bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement between India and Saudi Arabia by Naqvi and Haj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr Mohammad Saleh bin TaherBenten at Makkah.
Explaining the importance of sea travel, Naqvi said that sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses significantly. The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995. Another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just 3-4 days. Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.