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#7021 [Permalink] Posted on 7th June 2022 09:31
The Hajj of the Rich in comfort.

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#7022 [Permalink] Posted on 7th June 2022 10:01
@abu mohammed
I don't think comfort is related to what a person posses and what material he uses.
Hajees enjoy their stay in mina, tents jam packed , minimum food, minimum comfort, hectic schedule. But they enjoy it.
Note: I don't think in Arafah and muzdalifah these rich get similar comfort. or they fly to do rammi, tawaf, saee etc.
sub-continent hajees who stay in Azeeziah, about six kms, spend maximum possible time in haram masjid. Many among who stay in Hilton Hotel offer salah from their room, (haram is visible from their window), Watch TV programs.
May Allah accept the Haj of the rich and the common man.
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#7023 [Permalink] Posted on 7th June 2022 22:55
Saudi Arabia: Western pilgrims no longer able to book Hajj via travel agencies

Pilgrims will have to apply for a place in a Hajj 'lottery' and book their flights and accommodation through Saudi government website

In April, Saudi Arabia announced that it would re-open the Hajj but only allow a million triple-vaccinated pilgrims and those aged below 65 to attend (AFP)

By Areeb Ullah

7 June 2022

Just weeks before the annual Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia has introduced new rules which mean prospective travellers from western countries must now book their visits to Mecca through a government website, rather than via travel agencies.

Saudi Arabia's Hajj Ministry confirmed on Monday that pilgrims from "Europe, America and Australia" would need to apply via its Motawif website and said pilgrims would find out if they had gained a place via an "automated lottery" or draw.

The ministry has not said when the draw will happen but advised prospective pilgrims to "request refunds from tour operators/agents" who have taken deposits for people wishing to do the Hajj.

Prospective pilgrims will now have to apply for a place to attend the annual Hajj and, once approved, book their flights and hotels directly with the Saudi government.

The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world and is considered a religious obligation for every Muslim who is healthy and able to afford it within their lifetime.

'We have been doing Umrah and Hajj for many years, and getting anything out of the ministry is very difficult, so how pilgrims are going to get what they need is mind-boggling,'

Riyadh has not released the pricing for its packages for international pilgrims, but said it will include the price for flights and accommodation.

It remains unclear what prompted Riyadh to change its processes so close to the Hajj season's commencement, but it could mean pilgrims who have waited since the coronavirus pandemic will lose out on a chance to complete the Hajj.

To guarantee their place for the Hajj, many pilgrims put down deposits with travel agents in their own countries. But since the announcement, many agents have refunded them.

Pilgrims typically take months to prepare for the religious rites associated with the Hajj and attend seminars to ensure the pilgrimage is completed correctly.

In April, Saudi Arabia announced that it would re-open the Hajj but only allow a million triple-vaccinated pilgrims and those aged below 65 to attend. The announcement led travel agencies to begin advertising packages that ranged from $7,000 to $10,000.

In May, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain, Khalid bin Bandar al-Saud, told MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah to tell prospective pilgrims "to contact the [travel] agent and claim a refund".


Saudi Arabia has begun welcoming pilgrims attending the annual Hajj pilgrimage for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic (AFP)

Prince Khalid also told MPs to ask British travel agents for refunds from their local Saudi partners if they had already put down deposits on hotels or transport.

The new system comes months after travel agencies in Europe, America and Australia were left in the dark by the Ministry of Hajj in Saudi Arabia and not told the number of places allocated to them.

Yusuf, a Hajj travel agency director in London, said Saudi Arabia's announcement changed the industry overnight.

"We have been doing Umrah and Hajj for many years, and getting anything out of the ministry is very difficult, so how pilgrims are going to get what they need is mind-boggling," Yusuf told Middle East Eye.

"Many agents rely on Hajj for their main profit. Now they will most likely rely on Umrah to survive, but that would be even more difficult given how saturated the Umrah market is with different agencies and pilgrims now able to book everything themselves."

www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-hajj-western-pilg...
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#7024 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 08:12
Saudi Arabia: Hajj packages for UK pilgrims won't be 'Atol' protected

British pilgrims booking via Saudi Arabia will not be eligible for UK consumer protection if things go wrong, says Riyadh

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Saudi Arabia has confirmed that its proposed Hajj packages for western pilgrims will not be protected by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) scheme for British pilgrims hoping to perform the pilgrimage this year.

The Haramain Twitter account, which tweets on behalf of Saudi Arabia's holy sites in Mecca and Medina, confirmed the situation on Wednesday.

"Pilgrims will not be Atol protected as is currently the case for UK pilgrims," the Haramain said.

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Saudi Arabia has confirmed that its proposed Hajj packages for western pilgrims will not be protected by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) scheme for British pilgrims hoping to perform the pilgrimage this year.

The Haramain Twitter account, which tweets on behalf of Saudi Arabia's holy sites in Mecca and Medina, confirmed the situation on Wednesday.

"Pilgrims will not be Atol protected as is currently the case for UK pilgrims," the Haramain said.


Saudi Arabia: Western pilgrims no longer able to book Hajj via travel agencies
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"If you are successful [in applying to attend Hajj], you will receive an email with more information that will be required in order for you to complete the next stage of the process."

Atol holiday protection covers holiday packages sold by UK travel companies. This protection means that if a UK travel company collapses whilst a consumer is on holiday, the UK government will provide a refund for the trip and arrange accommodation and flights home.

The clarification comes after Saudi Arabia said pilgrims travelling from Australia, North America and Europe will no longer be able to book their Hajj journey through travel agents.

Western pilgrims have been told to register their interest via a Saudi government portal, where they will be randomly selected to attend Hajj by an "automated lottery," or online draw.

Successful candidates will then be directed to three separate packages, which will include flights and accommodation. No confirmation has been made by Saudi Arabia on the price range of these packages or when the results of the draw will be announced.

But a layer of consumer protection has been taken away from prospective British pilgrims with Hajj packages no longer being protected by ATOL.

Sean McLoughlin, a professor of the anthropology of Islam at Leeds University, is the author of Mapping the UK's Hajj Industry and produced the first report on Britain's Muslim pilgrimage industry.

McLoughlin said Atol protection has been the "first line of defence for pilgrims against Hajj fraud where unlicensed vendors did not deliver what is promised".



"The Atol Regulations (2012) provide financial protection for UK consumers, including pilgrims, should their travel package provider go out of business," McLoughlin told Middle East Eye.

"Individuals and groups typically pay out quite large sums of money for their Hajj packages, so this protection gives them peace of mind that their money is safe.

"Hajj organisers selling packages in the UK are required by law to pay a bond to cover the support of any consumers stranded overseas and/or requiring reimbursement for the loss of any part of their package."

www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-uk-hajj-packages-...
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#7025 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 10:06
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#7026 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 10:10
Sri Lankan govt allows Muslims to perform Hajj if they pay in foreign currency

arab.news/4y4zz

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government has announced that Muslims would be allowed to perform Hajj this year provided they pay their travel costs in foreign currency, as the country faces its worst economic crisis in recent memory.

Last month, Sri Lanka’s umbrella association of pilgrimage organizers said its members would suspend operations because the cost of sending worshippers to Makkah — estimated at $10 million — would be too high for the country to bear when it is struggling with the worst financial downturn since independence in 1948, and has already defaulted on its foreign debt repayments.

The suspension was conditionally lifted by Religious Affairs Minister Vidura Wickremanayake on Tuesday, following consultations with Muslim parliamentarians and Environment Minister Naseer Ahamed, who also oversees Middle Eastern affairs.

“At the request of the Muslim groups led by Minister Ahamed, we have decided to fulfil the quota of pilgrims by requesting them to pay for their Hajj package in foreign currencies, which will not affect our national economy,” Wickremanayake told Arab News.

“I have requested the central bank to work out the modalities of working out this pilgrimage and they would help them find an easy passage to and from Makkah this year.”

Muslims make up almost 10 percent of the country’s population of 22 million, which is predominantly Buddhist.

This year, the country has been allocated a quota of 1,585 pilgrims to perform the Hajj, after Saudi Arabia announced it would allow 1 million foreign and domestic Muslims to travel to the holy sites in Makkah.

While it is unlikely that Sri Lanka would fill the entire quota, Ahamed, who discussed the issue with Wickremanayake, said that even sending a reduced number of pilgrims this year would help the country keep its allocation. This year’s number is already lower than in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic upended Hajj travel.

“Since the pilgrims have been asked to pay for their package in foreign currencies, we cannot expect to make use of the full quota this year. But it’s good to take some pilgrims to keep Sri Lanka’s quota intact for next year too when things would get eased,” Ahamed told Arab News.

“Three years ago, we got a Hajj quota of nearly 4,000 and this year we do not want to miss this 1,585 quota for Lankan pilgrims.”

One of Islam’s five main pillars of faith, the Hajj was restricted over coronavirus fears to just 1,000 people residing in Saudi Arabia in 2020. Last year, the Kingdom allowed 60,000 domestic participants, compared with the pre-pandemic number of 2.5 million.

Prospective Sri Lankan pilgrims have to file their applications with the Ministry of Religious Affairs by Friday.

“I have asked those interested to make the necessary applications to the department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs on or before June 10,” said Ibrahim Sahib Ansar, director of the ministry’s department overseeing the logistics.

“There are 86 Hajj travel operators and some 15 reputed agents will be selected from them and the operations will be streamlined through them,” he added.
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#7027 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 10:24
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#7028 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 11:14
Who are permitted to do tawaf in mataf. Whether the restrictions are continued, mataf only for umrah only.
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#7029 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 13:17
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#7030 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 13:48
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#7031 [Permalink] Posted on 9th June 2022 17:05
See thread in tweet for Q&A. The answers provided are not very clear for many users.

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#7032 [Permalink] Posted on 10th June 2022 11:03
Mecca pilgrimages at risk after overhaul of entry system

The UK hajj travel industry is at risk of collapse after Saudi Arabia announced an overhaul of the pilgrimage entry system this week.



A Twitter account, which routinely issues updates on matters relating to the two holy mosques in Saudi, revealed details of an online government portal where travellers from selected countries, including the UK, can register their interest before being randomly selected to travel.


The new portal cuts out UK-based agents who typically organise the trip for around 25,000 British Muslims each year. Companies that have customers with existing bookings will be obliged by the Package Travel Regulations to refund their customers.

Travel agent and hajj guide Abu Sayed Ansarey described the situation as a "nightmare" and said it threatens to wipe out the estimated £175m industry.

"This is our income and there are many agents who survive on this. We also contribute to the British economy," he told Sky News as he revealed he faced paying back nearly £280,000 in refunds.

Pilgrims on their way to Mecca© Associated Press Pilgrims on their way to Mecca
Mr Ansarey explained that many of his clients are reluctant to send money overseas without adequate protections.

"I told them they can get their money back but they say it's not about money, they want to go to hajj with someone they know.

"They want to go the way their predecessors went, with hajj guides like myself."

As Sky News set up to film with Mr Ansarey, he received a call from a worried client who expressed concerns about consumer protection with the new system.

"I've heard it's not ATOL protected," the customer said, referring to the UK's financial protection scheme for air package holidays. "I don't want to book using this portal."


The Mecca's Grand Mosque was almost empty of worshippers in 2020© Reuters The Mecca's Grand Mosque was almost empty of worshippers in 2020

Yasmin Qureshi, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah, says she has warned the Saudi government that their packages do not meet UK travel regulations.

"I have written to the Ministry about the whole portal rollout," she told Sky News.

"If something goes wrong, what is the ultimate comeback for the pilgrim? On the old system, you had ATOL protected packages, so if anything went wrong we had compensation."

The Saudi government has not made any public announcements to confirm or deny the reports but the portal, called Motawif, is up and running. When Sky News contacted the company it confirmed the system is designed to tackle fraud and make hajj more accessible. On its website, it says it is the first portal in the sector to revolutionise the direct-to-consumer booking process.


The UK-hajj travel industry does have a history of fraud with some illegitimate operators disappearing with thousands of pounds of pilgrims' money.

One person speaking to Sky News on condition of anonymity said he backs the idea of a universal system for hajj packages but that rolling it out just one month ahead of the pilgrimage has left his family frustrated.

"My wife has been wanting to go for many years and we waited for the pandemic to make way and then booked it straight away. My children skimped and saved for this," he said.

"It's a non-refundable deposit and we stand to lose £6,000. But my real objection is that it's so late to make this announcement and we still haven't really been told anything.

"If it was my own choice, I wouldn't enter the hajj-lottery this year because I'd like to see how it works before I send such a large amount of money internationally. It's not nice being the guinea pig."

The Civil Aviation Authority recommends travel insurance and using appropriate credit cards where possible.

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#7033 [Permalink] Posted on 10th June 2022 11:24
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Earlier they used to serve the hajees, hajees used to do dua from their depth of their hearts.

Today they are earning from hajees. VAT more 15% on every step. expensive travel, accommodation.

Last few years, there are dynamic changes, some times at last minute, it is hell for both the tour operators and the hajees. The tour operators may have to give up their operations and look for some other alternatives for their livelihood. At the end the Hajees will suffer.

They are waiting for an opportunity to reduce the number of hajees, and "you are not welcome" "you are burden on our economy" attitude prevails
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#7034 [Permalink] Posted on 10th June 2022 12:47
Asharif wrote:
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Looks like these people are in control now :(

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Check the website where Motawif is mentioned as one of theirs
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#7035 [Permalink] Posted on 10th June 2022 13:12
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If it was offered to Indian muslim technocrats, they would have done it a better way. They know what haj, umrah, ziarah is, it is not creating a conventional travel plan.
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