Saudi businesses are feeling the result of a reduced number of pilgrims observing this year’s Hajj. Compared to the previous years, one in which pilgrims peaked at over three million, only about 1.9 million pilgrims attended the current holy pilgrimage.
The result is the fewer cash spent by pilgrims visiting the holy land, Reuters reported.
Visitors from abroad has fallen by around 20 percent while half of the expected number of Saudi natives for the pilgrimage reduced by half, said Marwan Abbas Shaaban, head of the kingdom’s National Committee for Haj and Umrah. Overall, haj-related business was down by half, he said.
Those who are still coming have less to spend, said Ali al-Hirabi, who hawks gleaming gold necklaces and rings from a shop in the holy city. “They come, but their situation isn’t like it was when there was peace in the world,” he said. “It’s the Arab countries that are the problem.”
Officials give a variety of reasons for the declining visitor numbers. One of the most obvious is a boycott by Iran, which barred its citizens from attending this year’s haj after diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia collapsed following the Saudi execution of a Shi’ite cleric.
By Ola Adeola