Makkah hotel room rates break records

Updated 05 August 2014

Makkah hotel room rates break records

Several tourism and commercial firms are taking advantage of high demand by leasing hotel rooms with views overlooking the Grand Mosque for up to SR70,000 (or in some cases, SR100,000) a night, operators in the hospitality sector recently revealed.
“These firms act as brokers by sub-leasing accommodation units to pilgrims and Umrah firms at extortionate and off-the-radar prices,” said Mansour Abu Rayash, head of the real estate committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
“They are taking advantage of the fact that there are a limited number of rooms to compensate for low seasons at other times of the year and to cover yearlong operational expenses.”
“Pilgrims are conned into paying anywhere between SR30,000 and SR70,000 a night,” he said.
“No matter how you look at it, Makkah is the most expensive city for purchasing land and leasing out property during peak seasons. In Dubai, the cost of a hotel room can reach SR15,000 for the same level of accommodation and services.”
“Unfortunately, supervisory authorities cannot fine hotels that charge SR100,000 for a room in the central area,” said Abu Rayash. “They actually calculate prices based on the cost of land, construction and furnishing. Add to that service charges and profit margins and you end up with a price hitherto unheard of.”
“A hotel room in Makkah can cost anywhere between SR150 and SR100,000 a night depending on the location,” he said. “The city has witnessed a massive influx of pilgrims from inside and outside the Kingdom, particularly from the Gulf States, with the advent of the summer vacation.”
“This is in spite of the fact that authorities have limited the number of Umrah pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah to 250,000 per city.”
Expansion projects in the Grand Mosque, worth about SR400 billion, have contributed to price hikes since there are fewer places to stay.
“Hotels to the south of the Grand Mosque are limited to Jabal Omar Hotels, Al-Ghaleb and Al-Tawhid hotels and some a few buildings to the north,” he said.
There are an estimated 60,000 rooms in Makkah, but the majority of these rooms are very far from the Grand Mosque and most pilgrims do not opt for them. Most Umrah pilgrims end up going for the 4,000 rooms that are nearer to the central area.


The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

Updated 27 min 45 sec ago

The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

The Hajjana — fearless camel riders who patrolled the Kingdom’s borders — helped pave the way for the establishment of the modern Saudi state.
Their story goes back almost 90 years when a Hajjana border patrol was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
After the Kingdom’s founder reclaimed Al-Ahsa, he ordered sea and land patrols to be carried out to tighten security in the region’s border areas.
Patrols were led by camel riders, so a military sector was formed at that time known as Hajjana. Its name was derived from their means of transport — camels.
Now, nine decades later, the Camel Club has established the Royal Hajjana to commemorate the group’s distinguished cultural heritage.
Since its creation in April, the Royal Hajjana has been preparing to take part in official reception ceremonies for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guests as well as national festivals sponsored by the king and crown prince.
It will also perform in Saudi heritage shows and represent the Kingdom in local and international camel festivals.
Hajjana officers became famous throughout the country after acquiring their name from the “hejin,” or camel. They protected the Kingdom’s residents from the south of the Empty Quarter to north of the Nafud Desert.
One of the founding king’s priorities was to provide security and protect the nation’s borders, so the Border Guard was among the first military sectors created.
The Coast Guard’s budget also included allocations for Hajjana officers, known as the Hajjana patrol commanders, whose role was part of the Frontier Corps.
Patrols continued to operate in southern regions until recently. However, the memory of the Hajjana remains fresh in the minds of the Kingdom’s border guards.