This year, 157,000 Indian pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, will be treated to streamlined accommodation arrangements and other services, according to the Hindu. Muslims traveling to Mecca with the Hajj Committee in early December will stay in exclusive Indian-only tents equipped with all the necessary facilities.
Arab News reported that Pranab Mukherjee, Indian External Affairs Minister, has promised to address last year’s problems of pilgrims faced with last-minute flight rescheduling and poor accommodation facilities. “I can assure you that whatever shortcomings have been pointed out by you will be addressed,” Mukherjee said at the All India Hajj Conference in early April. “We will try to improve the situation.”
The 2008 Hajj agreement with Saudi Arabia allows for 157,000 Indian Muslims to enter Mecca, the same number as last year. Officials in New Delhi are currently pushing for an increase of 15,000.