Black market for Zamzam bottles thrives in Makkah

A vehicle full of Zamzam water bottles parked in front of the bottling plant in Kudai, Makkah

A vehicle full of Zamzam water bottles parked in front of the bottling plant in Kudai, Makkah

MAKKAH – A black market for Zamzam water has emerged here and it is run by undocumented African and Asian workers and violators of residency regulations.

In 2011, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Zamzam Project was implemented with a total cost of SR700 million.

The project aims to provide pure Zamzam water in a 10-liter bottle that costs SR5. State-of-the-art technology and machines are used in the factory to fill, store, and distribute Zamzam water.

Ever since the project was implemented, Makkah residents and Umrah pilgrims have been able to get Zamzam water quickly without having to stand in long lines.

Undoubtedly, the project, located in Kudai neighborhood, has played a big role in ending illegal selling activities of Zamzam that were taking place in Makkah. As time went on, the illegal activities started again.

This is what illegal workers, mainly African, do. They buy large quantities of Zamzam water, store them for a few months until the month of Shaban, which precedes Ramadan, then sell the bottles for ten times the original price, making a lot of profits in a short term.

Before Ramdan, the general public and Umrah pilgrims love to buy Zamzam water and keep it for the holy month. They do not mind paying SR30 for a Zamzam bottle which they get from African street vendors lining up outside the factory. Many people do not prefer to stand in long lines in Shaban; so they go to these African undocumented workers.

Saudi Gazette met some members of the public and asked them about the illegal selling of Zamzam water. Muhammad Humood said he went to the factory to buy Zamzam.

The employee told him he could only get 10 bottles according to the number of family members listed in the family card. He paid SR50 and went to get Zamzam bottles. Suddenly, a Burmese man approached him and asked him how many bottles he would get. The Burmese man offered Humood SR120 to give him his receipt.

“I was shocked. I asked him why he would pay this amount. He told me he would go and sell the receipt for double this price,” Humood said.

Ahmad Madani had the same problem. He called upon authorities to send secret agents to crack down on those illegal workers. Madani called upon consumers of Zamzam water to bring the bottles to the factory and not throw them in the garbage because they can be used by illegal workers. “Some of those workers mix Zamzam with regular water and sell it to the public,” he said.

Saudi Gazette visited the factory to take a look at the illegal selling activities going on there. At the parking lot outside the premises, there were several African and Burmese men standing with a large quantity of Zamzam water bottles next to them. They sell the bottle for SR10. When asked about the reason, they said sale points are crowded with people and there are long lines.

Those who do not want to stop in such lines can come and buy from us. Of course, they will have to pay double the price.






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