All 900 haj pilgrimage places for Singapore taken up, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

All 900 haj pilgrimage places for Singapore taken up

All 900 slots for the haj for Muslim pilgrims in the Republic have been snapped up, with an additional 54,000 people waiting for their turn to go on the annual pilgrimage.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, or Muis, said on Jan 8 that the Republic was granted 900 places for 2024.

It has been notifying prospective pilgrims from Nov 29, 2023, after Saudi Arabia introduced an early-notice system for the first time.

With the early notice, pilgrims are able to apply for leave, arrange for the caregiving of their loved ones, and prepare for their visit to Mecca, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli in a Facebook post on Jan 8.

“For those who have not been selected, I hope you will not despair. Rest assured that we will continue to work with the Saudi authorities to review Singapore’s request for more haj places,” he said.

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, is currently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the Haj and Umrah Services Conference and Exhibition.

Singapore has been allocated 900 places annually since 2018. Muis did not send any pilgrims for the haj in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2023, it introduced the MyHajSG portal, which did away with the need for prospective pilgrims to register in person.

Instead, the online registration system uses Singpass, in a bid for greater convenience.

While the process has been made easier, the cost of performing the haj – one of the five pillars of Islam – is expected to increase.

In 2023, Muslim pilgrims had to pay $1,500 more, on average, compared with the last five years.

The average package price per person was about $14,150, excluding emergency medical assistance and airfare. The cheapest package was about $8,490.

At the same time, the application fee for the haj increased from $240 pre-pandemic to $285 in 2024.

This will remain the case until the end of 2025, before the fee is further increased to $330 from 2026. These amounts exclude the goods and services tax.

MuishajMasagos Zulkifli