Over 20,000 Russian Muslims to go on pilgrimage to Mecca in autumn this year

More than 20,000 Muslims from Russia will go on pilgrimage known as the Hajj to Saudi Arabia this autumn. The 2013 Hajj quota for Russian Muslims will be 20,500 people under a document signed by the Saudi Arabian side, Damir Gizatullin, the first vice-chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of European Russia (DUMER), said after paying a working trip to Saudi Arabia as part of the Hajj mission.

The same quotas were set in 2012. This year the pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites will take place in October, the press service of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of European Russia reported.

In Saudi Arabia, the Russian Muslim delegation met Saudi deputy minister for Hajj Khatem Ben Hassan Qadi who praised Russian pilgrims for good discipline and observation of Hajj rituals.

The Russian delegation thanked the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia for attention given to Russian pilgrims and asked to increase quotas for Russian Muslims on grounds that the Muslim population in Russia was growing and the existing quotas were not enough to meet the needs of Russian Muslims.

Hassan Qadi explained that it was impossible to increase the quotas at the moment because of construction works in Mecca, including the renovation of the Holy Mosque al-Haram. For the same reason, the movement of pilgrims from one holy place to another will be possible only according to schedule in 2013.

More than 12,000 Russian pilgrims will arrive in Saudi Arabia by charter and regular flights. The rest will land in the Jordanian city of Aqaba from where buses will take them to the sacred places. For safety reasons, each bus will have two drivers who will work in shifts.

The Russian Muslim delegation thanked Sergei Kuznetsov, the Russian general consul in Jeddah, for help and support in organizing talks with the Saudi authorities.