The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, for any pilgrim is the journey of a lifetime. This year, it is considered very expensive. Its price was set to within a few cents at 63,000 dhs (amount not including pocket money), by the Moroccan Ministry of Habous. It includes the administrative procedures for the “Hajj” visa, transportation, accommodation in holy places…, in short, the cost of basic and other additional services as well as the cost of performing rituals.
Hajj is Saudi Arabia’s second largest source of income after oil. Faced with the influx of believers from around the world, Saudi Arabia has set up authorization quotas according to the country’s population. India and Pakistan, for example, are the first on the list with 200,000 pilgrims each, while Morocco has benefited from a quota of 34,000 pilgrims.
However, in order to realize this lifelong dream, the Muslim will have to face many challenges. One of these is undoubtedly the price to pay to be able to perform Hajj. Economic difficulties, exacerbated by inflation, cost-of-living crises and currency depreciation in some countries, cause the expenses to become astronomical and many believers give up on this trip of a lifetime.
Moreover, for some Muslim citizens of the world, they are other geopolitical and political restrictions. Those living in countries in conflict or under restrictive political regimes face additional difficulties in getting to Hajj.
Conflicts, geopolitical tensions imposed by certain countries make the pilgrimage difficult and sometimes even impossible. Despite these challenges the Hajj pilgrimage remains an important goal for many Muslims, so those who can overcome these difficulties often find meaningful experience performing this sacred rite.
The costs of Hajj have reached levels that are difficult for many to bear and force them to make painful choices that they might not have opted for if conditions had been better.
Especially since the pilgrimage was limited this year to people aged 18 to 65 who supposedly received the full doses of the required vaccines (meningitis and Covid-19) and who do not suffer from chronic diseases.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has lifted ‘Covid-19’ restrictions during the Hajj season this time around, to accommodate a comparable number of pilgrims to before the pandemic hit Covid, which stood at around 2.6 million.
This year the number is unlimited. This paved the way for pilgrims who decided to travel to the Saudi Kingdom on personal visit visas for some time for Umrah to stay there until they perform Hajj. This carries risks because “violators” face severe penalties, including immediate deportation and the imposition of a fine, in addition to being banned from entering Saudi Arabia for ten years.
That said, the Hajj for Moroccans began on June 2 with the departure of the first delegation. A Moroccan woman named Fatima, 63, who confided in Reuters said that “in recent years, the cost of Hajj has increased exponentially, in the wake of the cost of living”adding, “I saved for years to make it an acceptable pilgrimage… The money for the pilgrimage comes from my retirement funds and my savings. The Ministry’s endowment is insufficient to be able to perform a Hajj in accordance with common sense and my expectations. Today anyone who wants to perform this ritual must save at least 100,000 dirhams”.
An owner of a travel agency in Rabat, who requested anonymity, for her part indicated that” Effectivelythere demand for Hajj is not as intense as before, not only because of the high cost, but also since it has become codified and organized by the Ministry of Habous according to precise rules“.