Islamabad - Saudi Arabia will increase quota for Pakistani Haj aspirants from next year and will provide more facilities to Umrah pilgrims, said Saudi Minister of Information Dr Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad.

Dr Awwad while talking to Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor-ul-Haq Qadri on Sunday said that the Saudi king would decide about provision of land for construction of Pakistan houses in the two holy cities.

During the meeting, Qadri requested the visiting Saudi minister to increase Haj quota for Pakistanis and provide more facilities to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims. He also requested provision of land for establishing Pakistan houses in Makkah and Madinah to facilitate Pakistani pilgrims.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Bin Saeed Ahmad Al-Maliki, Secretary Religious Affairs Mumtaz Ali Shah and officials of the ministry were also present on the occasion. The Saudi minister said that the request of providing land would be presented before Saudi King Shah Salman for approval.

He expressed the hope that during the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia, this demand would also be granted. Dr Awwad said that both the countries enjoyed brotherly relations, adding that Saudi government would never leave Pakistan alone in the hour of need.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia increased Haj quota for Pakistanis to 179,210. In 2018, it increased Pakistani quota further and allowed an additional 5,000 people to perform Haj.

Dr Awwad is on a good will visit to Pakistan to convey the greetings and felicitations of Saudi leadership to the new Pakistani leadership. During his meeting with host officials, he expressed desire of the Saudi government to work closely with new government in Pakistan to start a fresh chapter in bilateral relations.