An appeal by Saudi Arabia to all countries, including the UAE, to cut down the number of pilgrims performing Hajj for the next two years has led to a decline in fortunes for travel agencies that specialise in Haj and Umrah services.
Saudi Arabia has undertaken extensive renovation work in Makkah and hence, has reduce the number of pilgrims arriving this year for Haj and Umrah.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, has appealed to the all Muslims across the world to respect the decision in the long-term interest, benefits and comforts for all pilgrims.
According to travel agencies in the UAE, their business has been cut by between 50 and 65 per cent for this year.
Walid Al Nadi from Al Dhabya le-lhaj wal-Umrah in Dubai confirmed the reduction in number of visas being issued for Umrah during Ramadan.
He anticipated a great impact on the Hajj season.
Mohamed Abdel-Khaliq from Bin Taleb le-lhaj wal-Umrah in Dubai said that the visas granted to their company have shrunk to a minimum this year.
Mohammed Saeed from Al-Buraq le-lhaj wal-Umrah said this year’s season is already finished for many companies and many may not even be able to cover the salaries of their employees.
He also estimated the decline in the number of Umrah visas to be between 55 and 60 per cent.
Shaaban Abdul-Mabood, official at Al-Matrooshi for Hajj and Umrah in Ajman said that the fall for Umrah is more than 50 per cent and for Hajj between 60 and 65 per cent.