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Hajj: A blessing for the Saudi coffers

  • Published at 02:50 pm August 6th, 2017
  • Last updated at 04:18 pm August 6th, 2017
Hajj: A blessing for the Saudi coffers
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earns billions of dollars from pilgrimage as thousands of Muslim pilgrims from around the world visit the holy cities of Mecca and Madina every year during Hajj, the second most important industry of Saudi Arabia after oil and gas. Foreign pilgrims have to stay in the country for nearly two months during Hajj to visit the different historic places as part of their religious rituals. Apart from Hajj and Umrah, they spend a lot of money on souvenirs and gift items like gold, Saudi dates, prayer mats, Zamzam water, veils and head scarves, earning the country huge revenues and thus contributing to its national economy. According to a report by RT, almost two million pilgrims visit Mecca every year for Hajj, a figure that is expected to rise to 2.7 million by 2020. In 2016, economists said that religious pilgrimages, such as the Hajj and Umrah, have significant growth potential and the ability to boost job opportunities for Saudia Arabia’s young people, the report said. Tourism contributes $22.6 billion (85 billion Saudi riyals) to the country’s GDP, with $12 billion (or 45 billion Saudi riyals) contributed from Hajj and Umrah. Annual revenue from Hajj is estimated to be $5.3-6.1 billion (or 20-23 billion Saudi riyals), depending on the number of pilgrims, economist Abdullah Katib told RT. According to sources at the Ministry of Religious Affairs and private Hajj agencies in Bangladesh, this year a total of 127,198 pilgrims are going to Mecca from Bangladesh for Hajj. Of them, 10,000 will perform Hajj under government management while the remaining 117,198 will undertake the pilgrimage under private management through different non-government agencies. The ministry has announced two packages for Hajj. A pilgrim will have to spend Tk381,508 under package 1 and Tk319,355 under package 2. The agencies are offering different packages between Tk319,355 and Tk1,000,000. The sources said devotees have to spend a large share of their money on airfare, accommodation, food, transportation, services and on sacrificing animals in the KSA. A pilgrim under the government management has to pay Tk118,737 for airfare, Tk1,075 for airport tax, Tk149,833 as accommodation fees, Tk34,400 for food, Tk10,750 for sacrificing animals, Tk23,413 in fees for transportation and different services, and Tk27, 950 as additional service charges, among other expenditures. And, the money goes into Saudi Arabia’s national exchequer. Finance Secretary to the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh Mawlana Fazlur Rahman said this year the Saudi government announced new rules, according to which a devotee will have to pay an additional Tk 44,000 if he or she has performed Hajj three consecutive times in the last three years. Also, fees of Moallems (Hajj guides) went up substantially compared with the previous years. The article was originally published on the Bangla Tribune.
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