Kuwait Haj quota to remain at 8,000

May 9, 2013

A proposal by Kuwait urging Saudi authorities to increase the number of its citizens and residents who can perform Haj this year from 8,000 to 14,000 is unlikely to receive a positive response.

“There will be no increase in the quota because of the extension work being carried out at the Haram Mosque in Makkah,” sources from the endowments and Islamic affairs ministry said. “The figure will most likely remain at 8,000 people and this means that the fees to perform Haj will increase tremendously,” the sources told local Arabic daily Al Rai.

Under the current quota, 7,000 Kuwaiti citizens are allowed to perform the pilgrimage while 1,000 places are reserved for stateless residents and foreign spouses of Kuwaiti nationals.

Kuwait had hoped that a new quota would allow for a higher number of non-Kuwaitis to perform Haj this year, in effect helping Haj operators take on more applicants. With approximately 70 Haj operators catering to pilgrims currently, the competition to attract would-be pilgrims is particularly tense and the ministry wants to ensure all parties are satisfied with the arrangements and proposals put forward in the country.

Under one proposal, Kuwaiti pilgrims will be allowed to choose among Haj operators based on fees and quality of services.

“An applicant planning to go to Haj first applies to the ministry and, once he or she gets accepted, selects the Haj operator and finalises his or her papers,” the source who was not identified said. “However, some operators have rejected the proposal, arguing that the Haj operators with impressive capabilities will take most of the applicants, leaving only a limited number to the more modest ones.”

Another proposal calls for allocating 100 would-be pilgrims to each of the Haj operators. “This proposal is still being studied and no final decision has been made yet.”

Under Saudi regulations, no Muslim, regardless of his or her nationality can perform Haj without the sponsorship of a Haj operator. The rule applies to Saudis and residents living in the kingdom as well.

A Haj quota was introduced in 1987 following an agreement by all member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to limit the number of pilgrims allowed by each country to 0.1 per cent of its population.

Several countries have requested an increase in their quotas, but Riyadh said that construction work in Makkah has put heavy pressure on the possibility to accommodate more than the three million pilgrims who congregate in the sacred city each year.

Haj, based on the Muslim lunar calendar, is expected in mid-October this year. Pilgrims begin their Haj journey in the tent city of Mena, on the outskirts of Makkah, ending it four days later, on the third day of Eid.

Islam requires all physically fit and financially able Muslims to perform Haj at least once in their lives.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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