Photo: Indonesian haj pilgrims wait to enter the departure area before leaving for Mecca at Soekarno-Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Nyimas Laula
JAKARTA – Officials from Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs will visit Saudi Arabia on April 19 to follow up on the memorandum of understanding on Islamic da’wah and cooperation signed between the two countries last month during King Salman's state visit, Nur Syam, its Secretary General told Salaam Gateway.
According to him, both countries will increase the number of Islamic teachers and lecture exchange programmes in universities.
Saudi Arabia will also establish three institutions in Makassar in South Sulawesi, Medan in North Sumatra, and Surabaya in East Java, which will help develop Arabic language education in Indonesia.
“Saudi Arabia will also advice and share its experience on Islamic development and da’wah that will strengthen the values of tolerance to curb the influence of radicalism and extremism. Of course, these will be in accordance with moderate Islamic values that promote peace,” said Nur Syam.
The ministry will also check on the preparations for haj during next week’s visit, including accommodation, food catering, and transportation for Indonesian pilgrims.
This year, Indonesia’s haj pilgrims quota returned to 211,000 after all pilgrim numbers were slashed by 20 percent in 2013 to accommodate the expansion of facilities at Masjid Al Haram in Mecca. Saudi Arabia has also approved an additional 10,000 for Indonesia, taking the country's total haj pilgrims quota to 221,000.
The ministry is stepping up its checks ahead of the haj this year to better prepare for the higher number of pilgrims.
“We need better preparations so that there will not be any trouble in the future,” said Nur Syam.
To better serve Indonesia’s pilgrims, the ministry will upgrade transportation services, as well as services in Arafat and Mina, including adding more air conditioners. It will also introduce a new smart haj mobile application, said Nur Syam.
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