Soaring costs discourage many Moroccans from performing Hajj to Mecca

Rabat, Jun 11 (EFE).- A 27% hike in fees for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca has discouraged some Moroccans from going if they are chosen by lottery in the quota set by Saudi Arabia.

The price for the trip from Morocco organized by Islamic affairs ministry has gone from 49,906 dirhams (4,700 euros) in 2019, when Saudi Arabia last welcomed foreign pilgrims, to 63,800 dirhams (6,000 euros), not including expenses.

The pilgrimage is even more expensive when organized by private travel agencies, ranging between 70,000 and 160,000 dirhams depending on the hotel, director of the Travel 4 You agency, Houda al-Majdouli, tells Efe.

The pilgrimage prices have increased this year in almost every Muslim-majority country due to rising inflation worldwide and taxes in Saudi Arabia, which has tripled its VAT, she says.

Many people have canceled their trips this year despite winning the draw, al-Majdouli and local authorities sources tell Efe.

“Notice that a worker of mine who was on the waiting list will finally be able to go because there are people who gave up because of the prices,” she adds.

The Hajj, which every Muslim must perform at least once if their physical and financial conditions allow it, is set to take place this year on July 7-12.

One million Muslims will be allowed to perform Hajj. Over half of these spots have been distributed in the form of quotas for Muslim majority countries, depending on the number of their inhabitants.

Some 15,392 have been allocated to Morocco and will be distributed via annual draw.

One of the Moroccan candidates chosen in the draw is Fauziya Chaib, 62, who is preparing to travel at the beginning of the month through a travel agency at a total cost of 8,000 euros.

Chaib has been participating in the draw since 2015 and had been chosen for 2020, but her trip was postponed until this year. Although the cost of the trip is high, the fact that she is not alone in that “comforts” her. EFE


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