Islamic Minister to head this year’s Maldivian hajj pilgrims

Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has appointed Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir, as the Amir al-Hajj of the Maldives’ hajj pilgrims for this year.

President Solih made the appointment on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia granted quota for 453 Maldivian hajj pilgrims this year – the lowest quota granted to the country in years.

Only Maldives Hajj Corporation was granted the opportunity by the government to send pilgrims for the annual hajj pilgrimage this year.  

Applications have been opened for 100 spots, while the remaining 353 spots are reserved for applicants waitlisted with Maldives Hajj Corporation.

Maldives had previously received a quota of 1,000 for the annual hajj pilgrimage. The quota is usually increased under special permission from the Saudi king.

Maldivians have not taken part in the hajj pilgrimage over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia only allowed 10,000 people who live in the country to perform the pilgrimage. The number was expanded to 60,000 in 2021.

The country said it will host one million pilgrims this year.

Saudi Arabia said that in order to preserve its success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, pilgrims will need to be under the age of 65 and must have had COVID-19 vaccinations approved by the Saudi Health Ministry.