Though Hajj has always remained a dream for millions of Muslims, and they are ready to spend fortunes on it, especially after the two-year Covid-19 disruptions, many Moroccans are forced to cancel their Hajj plans this year due to high costs.
According to the Moroccan Islamic Affairs ministry, those selected to perform Hajj in 2022 will have to pay MAD 63,000 ($6,405), 27% higher than the costs in 2019.
Those travelling with private travel agencies will have to pay more, as hajj costs would range between 70,000 and 160,000 dirhams depending on the hotel, director of the Travel 4 You agency, Houda al-Majdouli, told Efe, La Prensa Latina reported.
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“Notice that a worker of mine who was on the waiting list will finally be able to go because there are people who gave up because of the prices,” she added.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Saudi government restricted foreign hajj pilgrims for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing 1,000 domestic visitors in 2020 and 60,000 in 2021.
The problem of costs isn’t only in Morocco as Muslims from other countries are also bearing the brunt.
Compared to neighboring countries, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, the cost of performing hajj in Bangladesh is relatively high.
According to the Business Standard, a Bangladeshi pilgrim will have to pay a minimum of $5,332 this year, which is 47% more than cost for pilgrims in Pakistan, and 93% more, compared to the situation in Indonesia.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the main factor for additional travel costs for Hajj this year.
Like many countries around the world, Saudi Arabia introduced coronavirus entry restrictions to help to contain the outbreak.
The cost of flights has also risen in recent years. Prices during the pandemic have generally been high whenever there is demand, such as during Hajj season.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia is another key factor. The price of many goods and services in the Kingdom has risen, meaning that the overall cost of a trip has also gone up.