62 firms to provide low-cost Haj services
The Haj Ministry has instructed 62 companies to provide low-cost Haj services during the upcoming season at a rate of SR2,500 to SR5,000. The low-cost Haj program is expected to benefit 41,000 pilgrims this year.
The ministry has divided companies providing the low-cost services into seven categories, with the first charging SR5,000, the second SR4,800, the third SR4,400, the fourth SR4,150, the fifth SR3,600, the sixth SR3,100 and the seventh SR2,500. Fayez Al-Barakati, director of domestic Haj affairs at the ministry, said the service firms have been directed not to exceed the fixed prices.
Saad Al-Qurashi, chairman of the Haj & Umrah Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said pilgrims who want to avail themselves of low-cost services must apply through the ministry’s website, adding that the ministry would begin accepting applications next week.
“We expect about 150,000 domestic pilgrims to perform Haj this year, including 41,000 who benefit from low-cost services,” Al-Qurashi told Arab News.
More than 1.4 million foreign pilgrims are expected to perform Haj this year and the “tawafa” (Haj) organizations for pilgrims from different countries have completed preparations to host them.
The government has cut the quota of foreign pilgrims by 20 percent and domestic pilgrims by 50 percent due to ongoing expansion work at the Grand Mosque in Makkah to ensure their safety and comfort. “This year, the day of Arafat, when the guests of God stand in prayer in the plains of Arafat near Makkah at the peak of the annual pilgrims, is anticipated on a Friday,” Al-Qurashi said, indicating a high turnout of pilgrims this season.
He said domestic Haj service companies would be allotted tents and sites in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah on Aug. 21 to make arrangements for their pilgrims. “The early allocation of tents will definitely contribute to reducing Haj service charges,” he added.