Makkah hotels bounce back with price cuts

Known to have the highest prices through the year, hotel rooms near the Grand Mosque currently cost between SR250 and SR700. (AFP)
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Updated 07 October 2020

Makkah hotels bounce back with price cuts

  • Competitiveness in the sector ‘likely to return by 2023’

MAKKAH: Makkah hotel prices have been slashed to unprecedented levels in the Umrah season, with the price of rooms dropping as low as SR38 ($10) in some areas.

Five-star hotels with a full view of the Grand Mosque in Makkah are getting ready to resume their activity and restore normality to the hotel industry by offering great discounts.

The holy city contains more than 1,400 hotels, which make up more than two third of the accommodation sector in the whole of Saudi Arabia.

Known to have the highest prices through the year, which peak about three times during busy seasons, hotel rooms near the Grand Mosque currently cost between SR250 and SR700 ($77-$187).

A tweet by Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten, brought attention to central Makkah hotels that have endured through the testing times of the pandemic.

Benten expressed his gratitude and happiness for the striking offers made by Makkah hotels, and described them as safe environments that take health requirements into account.

Abdullah Filali, chairman of the hotel committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News that the promotions announced by some hotels are a gradual means to revitalize the sector. He said the pricing is just the beginning of a gradual, progressive return to health for the troubled industry.

Filali noted that prices do not reflect employment volume, which fell to the low levels after the pandemic hit. “All hotels had to resort to the state aid ‘SANED,’ to keep their employees and fix their documents,” he said.

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The price of rooms has dropped as low as SR38 in some areas.

He added that only four central hotels had started to come back to life and that the recovery of the accommodation sector will be well underway by October 2021. Competitiveness will return by the end of 2023, Filali said.

The manager of one hotel overlooking central Makkah, Fadel Munqal, said that state efforts to serve Muslims are clear and evident through the protection of pilgrim safety. Steps to resume Umrah were compliant with health and precautionary plans and ensure the protection of health and safety, he added.

“The Kingdom seeks to reach the highest levels of reassurance and readiness for all pilgrims of different nationalities, which will be achieved with the beginning of the third phase of the plan. It will indicate the actual comeback of the accommodation sector and enable pilgrims to experience an integrated spiritual and tourism experience,” Munqal said.

He added that the Kingdom sacrificed economic welfare in a noble move to protect pilgrim safety during Hajj and Umrah.

Munqal said that Saudi Arabia possesses the capabilities to help hotels compete — in compliance with precautionary measures — with the arrival of pilgrims from across the world. He added that Makkah provides Islamic sites, in addition to important historical museums.

Grand Mosque library

The library of Makkah’s Grand Mosque has launched more than 16 initiatives to start welcoming visitors. The library will receive 30 visitors per hour amid strict social distancing measures.

It is considered a beacon of knowledge, covering an area of 1,000 square meters and containing 30,000 books and 5,600 titles.


Saudi firefighters douse Al-Azizah forest fire, no injuries reported

Updated 28 min 52 sec ago

Saudi firefighters douse Al-Azizah forest fire, no injuries reported

  • A number of Ethiopian nationals had been arrested on suspicion of setting the forest on fire following a dispute, says Interior Ministry

RIYADH/ABHA: Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defense has put out a fire in the Al-Azizah Mountains in Alsouda Heights near Abha, the administrative capital of Asir Region.

According to Civil Defense’s Twitter account, the firefighters controlled the fire and prevented it from spreading despite the rugged terrain in which the fire broke out. 

Lt. Col. Mohammad Al-Hammadi, Civil Defense spokesman, told Arab News that firefighters made great efforts to reach the area where the blaze had spread using state-of-the-art equipment to contain the fire.

“No one was injured, thanks to the swift action of the firefighters who helped protect the vegetation of this area. The firefighters are working now to cool down the area and combing down the area to ensure the fire has been controlled and contained,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Asir said that the Al-Maghda water plant was put at the discretion of firefighters to help them fight the fire, according to Abdullah Al-Wimni, the director of the ministry’s branch in Asir, and Muhammad Al-Haidan the director of the Department of Water Services in Asir. Both said in a statement that 20 water tankers were used by the Civil Defense firefighters.

The Ministry of Interior spokesman said an investigation into last week’s fire in the Ghulamah Mountains in Tanuma governorate, north of Asir, indicated that three border violators caused the blaze, which destroyed an area of more than 4.7 million square meters before it was brought under control by the Saudi Civil Defense team.

According to an Interior Ministry spokesman on Wednesday, the suspects were Ethiopian nationals who set fire to the area following a dispute and fled. They have since been arrested and referred to the authorities for legal action.

Tens of thousands of perennial trees — including wild olives, neems, junipers and acacias — some of which were more than 50 years old — were also destroyed.

The operation was carried out under the direct supervision of the Asir governor with the participation of all government and civil services, as well as teams from Al-Namas and Tanuma governorates.