JAKARTA, Indonesia – Officials confirmed Sunday (June 23rd) that Saudi Arabia is allowing 20% fewer pilgrims from Indonesia to perform Hajj this years, due to ongoing construction and development at Mecca's Grand Mosque, local media reported.
The cut in quota is affecting pilgrims from many countries. In Indonesia, it amounts to a reduction of about 42,200 people, according to The Jakarta Globe.
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said in a statement released Sunday that Indonesia previously appealed for an increase of 30,000 pilgrims.
Suryadharma said the quota loss has cost Hajj organisers as much as Rp 800 billion ($80.6m) in losses in terms of prepaid housing contracts, catering services and airfare.
"We regret this decision by the Saudi Embassy," he said.
Elderly Indonesians may be the demographic hardest hit by the Saudi decision, liputan6.com reported. Hajj pilgrims may be selected based on health and safety concerns, said Anggito Abhimanyu, director general of Hajj in Pondok Gede, East Jakarta.