Saudi Arabia has significantly increased the quota of Russian Muslims allowed to undertake the Hajj this year after learning of strong demand from Russians interested in making the pilgrimage, the head of a Russian Muslim organization said.
Rushan Abbyasov, the first deputy chairman of the Spiritual Directorate of Russian Muslims, told reporters during a video conference on August 11 that the number of Russians allowed to travel to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage will be 23,500 this year, an increase of 7,500 from last year's quota of 16,000.
He said the first groups of pilgrims can begin their journey as soon as the weekend of August 12-13.
Abbyasov said Saudi Arabia initially set the Russian quota at 20,500 places for 2017, but when informed that more Russians wanted to perform the Hajj, Saudi authorities granted an additional 3,000 slots.
Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax