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Extra Haj places for Singaporean pilgrims to be allocated via new balloting system

Eligible applicants for the Limited Balloting Scheme will pay S$100 (US$75) each time it is offered, but MUIS will subsidise the fee for the next two years.

Extra Haj places for Singaporean pilgrims to be allocated via new balloting system

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they pray at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia on Jul 12, 2022. (File photo: Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

SINGAPORE: Extra Haj spaces for Singaporean pilgrims will be allocated via a new automated balloting system, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Monday (Apr 10).  

After Singapore was allocated 493 additional Haj places a week before the scheduled departure to Saudi Arabia in 2022, MUIS said it had to reach out to almost 4,000 applicants in the Advance Haj Registration System (AHRS) queue to fill up the places within three working days.

However, a "significant number" of applicants were unable to accept last year's offer for the additional quota.

"During the allocation process, MUIS noted that a significant number of applicants in the queue were not ready (either physically, mentally, spiritually and financially) to perform Haj given the short notice."

Other challenges for pilgrims who take up the additional quota include limited accommodation, flights and logistics due to proximity to the Haj season, MUIS said.

The Limited Balloting Scheme (LBS) was thus developed by MUIS "to quickly and efficiently allocate" any additional places which may be given by Saudi Arabia, while giving advance notice to prospective eligible pilgrims to be ready if they are willing and able to perform the Haj.

Balloting is also used by other countries to determine the allocation of Haj places and the new system will supplement the existing AHRS, said MUIS.


Pilgrims must meet Saudi Arabia's criteria, which may include age and health requirements.

Those who fulfil the criteria, are performing the Haj for the first time and have registered in the AHRS between Jan 1, 2013 to Dec 31, 2017 will be invited by MUIS to apply for the LBS.

"Based on the qualifying criteria, approximately 20,000 are eligible for the LBS," said MUIS.

Eligible applicants will be contacted via SMS and email, inviting them to register for the balloting exercise within a stipulated timeline.

During the registration process, applicants can opt to register on an individual or group basis, said MUIS. It added that no more than five applicants are allowed for the group option.

MUIS advised those who are eligible to update their contact details through online portal MyHajSG if they are interested in participating in the balloting exercise.

Once the LBS is offered, each applicant will have to pay S$100 (US$75) to "defray the one-time registration cost, including processing the application and performing the balloting process", said MUIS.

The fee - which is applicable every time the LBS is offered - is also "a commitment by the prospective pilgrim to be ready to perform the Haj if given the opportunity".

But as the economy is emerging from the shadow of COVID-19, MUIS said that the application fee will be subsidised for the next two years - applicants will instead pay S$50 in 2023 and S$75 in 2024. 

MUIS added the LBS will enable "quick, fair and transparent allocation" of any additional places for the Haj which are allocated by Saudi Arabia.

It also expressed hope that the scheme can help ease the worries of pilgrims who are physically, mentally, spiritually and financially ready to perform the Haj, but are facing long wait times for their turn due to those ahead of them in the AHRS queue.

Source: CNA/rc(sn)


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