The increasing cost of the Hajj pilgrimage is a worry for Muslims worldwide. Economic factors like currency devaluation and inflation have made this sacred journey less affordable.
Take Egypt, for example. The price of the government-sponsored Hajj trip there has doubled in just a year. The Egyptian pound lost much of its value compared to the US dollar. This makes everything more expensive. For many, this price hike means their lifelong dream of going on the Hajj is slipping away.
This is a common problem for many who’ve saved up for years, hoping to make this spiritual journey. They now find it harder to afford.
Some people have tried to find a way to deal with these rising costs by getting tourist visas and arriving in Mecca early instead of the official Hajj route. They stay within Mecca and take part in Hajj while keeping well away from authorities who are in pursuit of these people. If found, they get reprimanded and are handed hefty fines.
This isn’t just happening in Egypt. It affects Muslims from different countries, like Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority nation globally. Even with reduced subsidies, many Indonesians must pay a lot to participate in the Hajj.
Yemen, a country with a long-running conflict and humanitarian crisis, faces even more significant challenges. Yemeni pilgrims have had limited access to the Hajj recently. They still had to pay a substantial amount, even though the country’s economy was in dire straits, and many people needed humanitarian help.
The Saudi government must prioritize the welfare of Muslims from diverse nations. While the Hajj is a significant source of income for Saudi Arabia, it should not impose an unbearable financial burden on people.
The staggering increase in Hajj costs, from £6,000 for a pilgrim from the United Kingdom in 2022 to around £10,000 in 2023, appears to be unjustly profiting from their spiritual aspirations and putting undue strain on their finances. It is crucial to hold the Saudi government accountable and exert pressure on them to ensure affordability. We must insist that they take action to make this sacred journey accessible to all, regardless of their financial means.