Ministry of Haj warns against building brokers
Hajjar: Defaulting service firms will have licenses revoked
The Ministry of Haj has asked all foreign Haj missions to deal directly with building owners or their legal representatives and not with brokers when they are looking for accommodation for their pilgrims. “The brokers may rent them accommodations at a premium in order to make profit for themselves,” the ministry said.
It said the brokers make concerted efforts to find accommodations for the pilgrims as quickly as possible driven by the sole purpose of getting fat commissions from the building owners.
“The ministry’s primary concern is to enable pilgrims do their Haj rituals in ease and comfort. It is not concerned with the financial gains of the brokers,” it said.
Meanwhile, Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar has strongly warned the Haj service providing companies that their licenses might be revoked or their pilgrim quotas reduced in case of any violation.
“Any Haj service providing company that fails to do its duties properly toward the guests of God will be severely punished,” he said.
He added that the ministry will closely observe the performance of these companies.
The minister on Tuesday met separately with the Tawafa establishments for pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, Australia and the non-Arab African countries. He discussed with them their operational plans and urged them to do their best to extend consummate services to the guests of God.
The minister asked the establishments to provide their staff with intensive training on the Haj services and to exert more efforts to correct the mistakes and loopholes of last year if any.
Ibrahim Hariri, member of the board of directors of the Tawafa establishment for the pilgrims from Turkey, the US and Australia, said all indicators show that this year’s Haj season will be a great success. “We have received our locations in the holy sites early. The tents will be given to us on Aug. 18,” he said.
Hariri said they will accommodate more than 190,000 pilgrims in Mina, served by 42 field teams from the establishment.
Adel Qari, another member of the establishment’s board of directors, said about 181,000 pilgrims will be transported by the shuttle mode while about 6,500 will be using the Mashaer train.
Abdul Wahid Seifuddin, chairman of the board of directors of the Tawafa establishment for the non-Arab African pilgrims, said the number of their pilgrims will this year go down by about 9,000 pilgrims. This number used to come from the three Ebola infected west African countries.
He said the ministry has refused to compensate them for the absence of pilgrims coming from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In a related development, Al-Shrif Mansour Abu Rayyash, chairman of the real estate committee of the Makkah Chamber Commerce and Industry, expected the accommodation revenues this year to be about SR3 billion.
“This will represent a drop of about 45 percent from last year’s revenues, which were close to SR6 billion,” he said.
Abu Rayyash attributed the remarkable drop in the accommodation’s revenues to three main reasons. The first is the 20 percent cut in the pilgrims’ quota of each country due to the ongoing expansion work inside the Grand Mosque. The second is the current political unrest in a number of Arab countries and the third is the spread of the Ebola virus in some African countries.
He said the average expenditure on accommodation for a pilgrim is about SR2,500, and the amount depends on the proximity to the Grand Mosque.