Saudi Arabia gives nod to India’s plan to ferry Hajj pilgrims via sea

Saudi Arabia has given its nod to India’s plan to revive the option of ferrying Hajj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in a statement Monday.
Naqvi made the comment after the signing of annual Hajj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia in Makkah.
“Saudi Arabia has given its nod to revive the option of sending pilgrims by sea route. Officials from both the countries willdiscuss all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Hajj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years,” Naqvi said according to the statement.
He said that sending pilgrims through ships would help cut down travel expenses significantly and added that it would be a “revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision”.
The practice of ferrying Hajj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways existed earlier too, but was stopped from 1995.
Naqvi also said that for the first time Muslim women from India will go to Hajj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion).
“Separate accommodation and transport have been arranged for these women Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and women Hajj assistants would be deployed for their assistance,” he claimed.
More than 1,300 women have applied to go for Hajj without ‘Mehram’.
“All these women will be exempted from lottery system and allowed to proceed to Hajj,” Naqvi said.
Women above 45 years of age, who wish to go for Hajj but who don’t have a male companion, are allowed to travel for Hajj in groups of four or more women according to the new Hajj policy of India.