Hajj is a great business opportunity for young Saudis

Saudi volunteers distribute water bottles among pilgrims near the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in the Muslim holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 21 August 2018
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Hajj is a great business opportunity for young Saudis

  • Serving pilgrims each year comes naturally to us, being from Makkah
  • There is no need for an office or store, and the size and maneuverability of motorcycles allow riders to easily avoid traffic jams — and security officials

JEDDAH: Each year, a large number of young Saudis head to Makkah during Hajj season to work and earn some money. Private companies and government agencies offer a variety of seasonal jobs, whether helping pilgrims directly or working for a company that provides services and facilities.
Some of the more popular choices of work among Saudi youths include transportation, serving food and drinks, and selling top-up cards and chargers for cellphones, which are essential services for many pilgrims due to their limited access to the usual marketplaces.
“Today, the Saudi authorities prevent many residents and citizens from entering the holy sites without the required licenses,” said Bader Alshereef. “Locals were selling water and cold drinks directly to pilgrims, for good returns.”
Alshereef used to sell water during Hajj. He now works with The Saudi Project for Utilization of Hajj Meat, also known as the Adahi Project.
“Adahi Project opens its doors for people to apply for seasonal jobs in Makkah, as do many other agencies and organizations, including Hajj-services companies that have been one of the season’s main employers over the years,” he added.
Businesses that provide services to pilgrims prefer to contract Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) because they tend to be cheaper options than hiring larger businesses. As a result, SMEs provide transportation, food and drink, among other services for pilgrims and the camps that host them.
“It is worth using part of your annual leave as an investment to go to Makkah and start your own small, seasonal business,” said Ahmed Albdulkhaliq. He was contracted by one of the providers of Hajj services to supply soft drinks and water to a pilgrims’ camp.
Although it is banned by the authorities, many locals still provide motorcycle transportation for pilgrims. Both Alshereef and Abdulkhaiq confirmed that this is one of the most attractive options for making money during Hajj. There is no need for an office or store, and the size and maneuverability of motorcycles allow riders to easily avoid traffic jams — and security officials. After an initial investment of less than SR1,500 for a bike, a good return can be made during the season, they said, after which the motorcycle can be abandoned to avoid checkpoints.
“Serving pilgrims each year comes naturally to us, being from Makkah,” said Ahmed Alattas who worked as a barber during the previous Hajj season. “In the past, shaving pilgrims’ heads was somehow exclusive to expatriates. Now you need a license to be a barber and to work legally.”
During last year’s Hajj season, all barbers were licensed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, and trained at the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation.
This year, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development launched an electronic service to coordinate temporary and seasonal jobs during Hajj season, using the Ajeer portal.


Saudi Arabia's King Salman holds talks with Iraq President Barham Salih

Updated 18 November 2018
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman holds talks with Iraq President Barham Salih

  • The king hosted a lunch and "discussed regional developments" with Saleh
  • An Iraqi official said Saleh was on an overnight visit at the invitation of King Salman

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received Iraq's new President Barham Saleh on Sunday on his first official visit to the Kingdom.

The king hosted a lunch and "discussed regional developments" with Saleh, the official Saudi Press Agency said, after the Iraqi leader's arrival in Riyadh following a visit to Iran.

An Iraqi official said Saleh was on an overnight visit at the invitation of King Salman.

There have been several visits in recent months between the two countries as Iraq seeks closer ties with Saudi Arabia as it look to rebuild after the defeat of Daesh.

In October 2017, Saudi Arabian budget airline flynas made the first commercial flight from Riyadh to Baghdad in 27 years.

Saudi Arabia is keen to develop strong relations with Baghdad to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.