Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, the presidential candidate for the opposition PPM-PNC coalition, says he plans on negotiating with the Saudi government to increase the quota the Maldives receives for the annual hajj pilgrimage from 1,000 to 2,000.
In a campaign rally in Lh. Naifaru on Thursday, Muizzu criticized the current administration’s hajj policies, which he blamed for the huge backlog of hopeful pilgrims.
“This is something I can’t say I will definitely get done. But I can promise that I will try,” he said.
Muizzu said that initiating talks with the Saudi government to double the hajj quota will be among the first order of business if he is elected.
He said that he will also try to secure a temporary increase in quota to clear the current backlog for hopeful hajj pilgrims.
He said that it cannot be done in one year, but could be done in two.
“I believe President Yameen shares a close relationship with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohamed. I believe and I am certain that with the aid of his close relationship and strong foreign policy, and if we try based on the close relations Kind Salman maintains with us, we can accomplish this,” he said.
Maldives usually receives a quota of 1,000 for the hajj pilgrimage, expect during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the number of pilgrims was limited to prevent the spread of the disease.