To optimize the experience of Muslim pilgrims visiting holy sites in Saudi Arabia this year’s Hajj season, local Hajj and Umrah guides have upped their preparation levels in the Kingdom.
On Sunday, the Hajj and Umrah Ministry officially confirmed that the Hajj pilgrimage would be held this year, but under “special conditions” to protect pilgrims against the spread of the coronavirus.
Even though the details of regulatory plans haven’t been announced yet, the decision to hold Hajj will certainly have a positive impact on Hajj-related industries like accommodation, transportation, and retail, local Hajj guides told Asharq Al-Awsat.
After a year-long pause brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Hajj economies in Saudi Arabia are now on track to revitalization and recovery.
“The mere announcement made by the Hajj and Umrah Ministry sent a glimmer of hope to all Tawafa (Hajj and Umrah guide) institutions,” said Mohamed Maajini, an official guide at the National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Arabian Countries.
“It constitutes a starting point and a much-needed push for the gradual reviving of Tawafa institutions,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Hajj and Umrah conductor reaffirmed that Tawafa agencies in Saudi Arabia are “ready to serve any number of pilgrims and have had an early start on making arrangements for all potential scenarios.”
“Tawafa institutions have completed setting general plans that cover all aspects of the pilgrimage,” confirmed Maajini, adding that guides will be updated on the specifics, protocols, and regulatory systems after they are announced by authorities.
As for how hard the coronavirus hit Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah markets, Maajini emphasized that the Kingdom was successful in employing efficient policies to limit the damage.
“Undoubtedly, the pandemic has left the world in isolation and negatively impacted global economies, but Saudi Arabia managed to stay ahead of time in containing the pandemic and underpinning vulnerable private sector industries,” he said.
It is worth noting that optimism over Hajj 2021 season is not exclusive to guide agencies in the Kingdom. It extends to a host of Hajj commerce players.
“What was announced by the Hajj and Umrah Ministry constitutes good news for all sectors operating in the Hajj sector,” Saudi businessman Mahmoud Mughrabi told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Moreover, he reaffirmed that all Hajj entrepreneurs have total confidence and hope in authorities and Hajj crews reaching and implementing a clear and comprehensive vision that guarantees the safety of pilgrims.
Mughrabi predicted that the all-inclusive plan for Hajj 2021 would be disclosed soon, after Muslims finish celebrating Eid al-Fitr in mid-May.
On that note, Mughrabi asserted that present-day mobility in different areas of the Hajj sector serves the Saudi economy in general and the Hajj and Umrah markets in particular.
“There is mobilization in various fields to serve both the Saudi economy and all workers in Hajj specialized services,” he said.
He pointed out that Tawafa agents will help guide foreign pilgrims by coordinating with government missions and authorities tasked with organizing the Hajj season and safeguarding pilgrims.