Egyptian pilgrims ‘top spenders’ during Hajj and Umrah seasons

There is a connection between the pilgrim’s economy back home and their purchasing power and aspirations when in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 11 May 2019

Egyptian pilgrims ‘top spenders’ during Hajj and Umrah seasons

MAKKAH: Pilgrim spending in Makkah and Madinah needs to be examined and encouraged, Hajj and Umrah sector experts have told Arab News.
Millions of Muslims visit the two holy cities annually, with more than 6 million umrah visas issued this year so far, but their shopping needs to be stimulated with a greater offering of specialty products that showcase Saudi Arabia and the two holy cities.
Egyptians top the list of spending, according to the head of the tourism and hotels committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Aziz Awliyaa.
“Egyptians top the list of spending, followed by Iraqis, Algerians and Turks,” he told Arab News, adding there was a connection between the pilgrim’s economy back home and his or her purchasing power and aspirations when in Saudi Arabia.
“A pilgrim spends an average of $700 during a period of 10 days, five days spent in Madinah and five days spent in Makkah.”
Saad Jameel Al-Qurashi, the former chairman of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that different nationalities spent different lengths of time in the Kingdom.
“Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals prefer to stay for 30 days, while some Egyptian pilgrims prefer to stay up to 20 days,” he told Arab News. He said that pilgrims spent up to $1,000 in a 10-day period.
Data from the Hajj Ministry, released earlier this month, showed that the largest number of pilgrims are from Pakistan (1,353,625) followed by Indonesia (881,459), India (579,443), Egypt (405,750) and Turkey (279,038).
Al-Qurashi said that one way to cater for a diverse international audience was to globalize food and beverage outlets.
“There is a need to open foreign restaurants in Makkah to give pilgrims the opportunity to leave their hotels, visit these restaurants and taste dishes in a modern setting that stimulates the hospitality sector and supports diversity for more than 150 nationalities that meet in one place during Ramadan.”
He explained that purchasing power was not just determined by nationality or the economic situation in a pilgrim’s home country. There was also a desire to find added value, he said. “Pilgrims are keen to buy items that they do not find in their countries, and that imposes the challenge of diversifying markets so they cater to the pilgrims’ various requirement.”
There was a “dire need” to establish research economic bodies to examine expenditure rates and requirements for pilgrims and to cope with the increase in pilgrim numbers every year, he added.
Al-Qurashi said there was also a need to come up with special gifts for pilgrims who preferred souvenirs made by Saudi nationals and “exemplified the spirit of Makkah.”


Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

Updated 18 October 2019

Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

  • The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date

RIYADH: More than 1,500 performers and 25 floats took part in a parade and carnival on Thursday night that officially launched Riyadh Season’s Boulevard zone. The crowds that gathered for the fun-packed event were also treated to motorcycle displays, fireworks and other surprises.

The Boulevard lit up at 9 p.m. for the start of the 90-minute event, which featured some of the international artists who will perform as part of Riyadh Season. Afterwards, the zone’s food and drink outlets, outdoor cinema and fountain shows officially opened.

The audience watched the parade, performances and displays from specially constructed stands. Food trucks offered a selection of tasty snacks, and organizers also provided prayer rooms, toilets, first-aid stations and other facilities.

 

GEA president Turki Al-Sheikh gave an opening speech: “Our dearest people, in the beginning of this season, we welcome you and our guests in Riyadh.

“I want to share a story with you all; once upon a time, I was from a middle-class family. My mother and father would gather both their salaries to have us travel to see the world, and then we would stay in Riyadh for a year. These were our capabilities (at the time) and there was nothing to do in Riyadh. Who would've thought that we’d see all of this in Riyadh, and in our beloved country?

“This wouldn't have been possible without -of course Allah first- a person who has the qualities and vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

He tweeted: “Riyadh traffic police estimated we have exceeded 600K which means ten times the capacity.”

In addition to the opening-night festivities, the Boulevard zone, which covers 400,000 square meters, will host a wide range of entertainment options and activities for all ages, including the outdoor cinema, restaurants, and sports, music and theatrical events. It has three main venues: The 22,000-seat Mohammed Abdu Theater, the 6,000-seat Abu Bakr Salem Theater, and the 2,000-seat Baker Al-Sheddi Theater.

The parade is just one of more than 100 events featuring local, regional and international performers taking place during the Riyadh Season festival, which continues until mid-December at 12 zones across the city: the Boulevard; the Front; Riyadh Car Show; Winter Wonderland; Riyadh Stadiums; the Diplomatic Quarter; Al-Muraba’a; Al-Malaz; Wadi Namar; Nabd Al-Riyadh; Riyadh Safari; and Riyadh Sahara. It has been organized with the support of Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority and president of Riyadh Season.

The ambitious 2019 Saudi Seasons initiative, the first of its kind in the region, was launched in February and includes 11 local seasons covering most parts of the Kingdom. Designed to promote the fledgling Saudi entertainment sector and boost tourism, it is attracting some of the biggest names in world entertainment.

The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date. It follows a folklore parade at the Mawtni (My Nation) cultural event in Yanbu to mark Saudi National Day this year, and a parade during the Jeddah Season festivities in the city’s Obhur district.

The parade had a special surprise; the appearance of DJ Carnage who took to the stage dressed in complete Saudi attire and performed his successful electronic show.

The musician also took to Twitter to celebrate the night and how he had had a hand in “making history,” tweeting: “A huge thank you to @Turki_alalshikh  ..... what you did for your country last night... was so special... thank you for having me... we made history.”