Saudi Arabia

Muslims in Mena Region Determined To Attend Hajj Despite Economic Hardship

Every year, the Saudi government dedicates a specific number of visas to each country around the world for Muslims to fulfil their obligatory Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam. In 2023, Hajj will return to pre-pandemic numbers as Saudi Arabia removes all Covid-19 restrictions, however, Muslims in the Mena region are still struggling as they grapple with soaring inflation rates and economic hardship.

Hajj prices have risen astronomically for Egyptians, as they contend with record-high inflation and a 50 per cent drop in the value of the Egyptian pound since last year.

Prices for economy and luxury Hajj packages for Egyptians have risen by 30 per cent to 40 per cent, with the cheapest package costing about 125,000 Egyptian pounds ($4,000) this year, compared with 95,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,000) last year.

Hajj pilgrimage difficult dream to realise for Jordanians
Every year, retired Jordanian businessman Mohammad Al Kaseh unsuccessfully applies to go to Hajj. “I am always unlucky, although I fulfil the age requirements,” says Mr Al Kaseh referring to the 63-year-old age minimum set by the Jordanian authorities.

Jordan, a country of 10 million, has a quota of 8,000 pilgrims set by Saudi Arabia, indicating how little chance ordinary people have to fulfil what is a religious duty for every Muslim. Economic pressures in Jordan have also added to the difficulties of performing Hajj.

Vaccination hold-ups in Iraq
About 37,000 Iraqis will perform Hajj this year, according to the Iraq government’s Hajj and Umrah Commission which oversees the process.

Al Sheik Radhi, who was supposed to perform Hajj in 2021, is still waiting to get the seasonal flu and meningococcal meningitis vaccinations.

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The National

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