RIYADH — A record number of pilgrims are expected to perform Haj this year, the National Committee for Haj and Umrah said.
The committee based its prediction after a record five million people performed Umrah during the just-ended season. The Kingdom, according to statistics, issued over 4.8 million Umrah visas this season, registering an increase of about a million pilgrims.
Saad Bin Jameel Al-Qurashi, Chairman of the National Haj Committee at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Makkah, was quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic daily as saying that the record Umrah season this year belied earlier predictions of a drop in the number of pilgrims owing to the political unrest in several Arab countries. “The opposite has happened,” he said.
On the basis of the year’s Umrah season, he said, the Haj season is expected to reach the highest in terms of number of pilgrims indicating that the Kingdom usually receives 1.7 million pilgrims from outside the country. The limited area in Mina may make it difficult for the authorities concern to issue more Haj visas, he said.
According to a Reuters report, Al-Qurashi said, the Kingdom’ s revenues from Haj and Umrah range between $10 to 12 billion.
According to the report, a pilgrim spends SR4,600 on an average.
He said the Umrah and Haj season secures 14,000 seasonal job opportunities for the Saudi job seekers.
Pilgrims may face a lot of problems at airports as was seen during the Umrah season, he warned.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation has said it would impose strict financial penalties on airlines including Saudia because some of their flights were delayed and created chaos at Jeddah airport.