RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah says the cost of the pilgrimage this year has dropped 39 percent for 1.4 million pilgrims arriving from outside the Kingdom.
Speaking at a press conference in Riyadh on Thursday, Al-Rabiah added that there has been a considerable upgrade in services this year as the numbers of pilgrims return to pre-COVID-19 levels.
“The cost of Hajj has decreased, and Hajj packages have decreased by 39 percent for pilgrims outside the Kingdom, benefiting more than 1.4 million … and we will see better services because of the nature of competition that helps enhance quality and reduce prices,” he said.
For this year’s Hajj, the number of firms now providing services has been increased from six to 16.
Al-Rabiah said there has also been a cost reduction for domestic pilgrims, with payments now allowed in installments on the Nusuk Hajj platform. The basic package starts at SR3,984 ($1,062.40).
The minister said that one of the most important developments this year was the launch of the Nusuk Hajj platform for pilgrims from the Americas, Europe, and Australia, in seven languages.
Al-Rabiah said that the government would continue to monitor for fraud with regard to pilgrimage packages. Only the Nusuk Hajj platform was authorized to process payments.
“We have a large number of observers who monitor the agreed packages ... Last year, for example, we returned more than SR160 million ($42.66 million) to the pilgrims because of the breach of the agreements that were made, and we will not tolerate (this) with any company. And there will be incentives and (the) honoring of companies that achieve levels of satisfaction,” Al-Rabiah said.
On the Umrah, he said a change previously announced was the extension of the visa from 30 to 90 days.