SR70bn pilgrimage bonanza forecast
Economists predict more than SR70 billion in revenues from this year’s Haj and Umrah seasons, according to experts.
Abdullah Al-Marzoouq, a professor of Haj economy at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, told Arab News there are positive indicators for enhanced Haj profits.
“This is thanks to the 9 million pilgrims who will have performed Haj and Umrah this year,” he said.
Al-Marzoouq called for greater efforts to create more job opportunities for Saudis during the Haj and Umrah seasons.
Abdulkhaleq Al-Kashef, director of the Haj Research Center, said that Haj service companies will undoubtedly take advantage of the upcoming Haj season.
“The large Haj and Umrah market will increase the sale of Saudi products, which includes gift items,” said Khaled Ramadan, the manager of a Haj and Umrah service company.
Ramadan told Arab News that Saudi-made gift items are facing big competition from Chinese products.
He stressed the need for strengthening the capabilities of young Saudi men and women in making innovative gift items with a Makkah and Madinah touch for sale among pilgrims and other visitors.
Ramadan believes that Saudi products could make a revenue of SR500 million to SR800 million annually if properly marketed.
Saleh Al-Rasheed, the owner of a shop selling souvenirs and gifts, urged Saudi youth to start small and medium-sized enterprises to produce gift items to market among pilgrims.
“This is a potential goldmine for young Saudis,” he said.
“It can also create more seasonal jobs for Saudis during the Haj season,” he added.
The Ministry of Haj, meanwhile, has implemented a plan to crack down on fake Haj operators who fleece customers by collecting money for Haj in advance and then vanish without a trace. Bogus operators often shut down their offices and keep their mobiles switched off, leaving their victims in the lurch.
The ministry is also monitoring the service category of Haj operators, since many claim to offer “VIP” services in order to con their victims into paying higher amounts.
Authorities have advised residents to be cautious while dealing with Haj operators.
“The Haj Ministry will closely monitor the marketing and advertisement campaigns of local Haj operators to prevent fraud,” said Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar.