Govt likely to reduce Hajj 2024 expenses

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they pray at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia July 12, 2022. — Reuters

In order to make Hajj easier and cheaper amid back-breaking inflation, the caretaker federal government is likely to reduce expenses of the sacred pilgrimage this year, revealed Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed.

Addressing a dinner reception, organised by the Pakistan Business Group Organization (PBGO) Punjab Chapter, Ahmed indicated his intention to announce the Hajj policy by Wednesday (November 15).

He emphasised the consistent adherence to the Hajj Policy since 2004, underscoring the importance of respecting and implementing the directives of the Saudi government both in letter and spirit. 

Highlighting a notable accomplishment of his government, Aneeq disclosed that the forthcoming Hajj pilgrimage would incur a reduced cost, now standing at less than Rs1,075,000, compared to the previous pilgrimage which incurred expenses of Rs1,175,000.

He guaranteed that pilgrims would experience maximum convenience and comfort during this Hajj season, with a range of facilities, including an affordable internet data package with a private network SIM available throughout their 45-day stay in the Kingdom.

The ministry was introducing a short-term Hajj programme spanning approximately 20 days, recognising the constraints faced by some pilgrims who are unable to stay for more than 40 days due to personal and professional commitments, he added.

The minister shared uplifting news for prospective pilgrims paying their Hajj dues in dollars, stating that they would be exempt from the balloting process. This exemption, he highlighted, aimed to streamline the Hajj process effectively.

He emphasised that every pilgrim would receive a suitcase equipped with a QR code, ensuring the secure tracking of both their luggage and themselves throughout the entire Hajj operation.

In conclusion, he outlined the ministry’s initiative to maintain discipline among female pilgrims by providing a scarf (hijab) adorned with the national flag on their back.

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