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Hajj to cost around Rs600,000 this year: Minister

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Mufti Abdul Shakoor said on Friday that expenditure for the people who will perform Hajj under the government scheme will be less than Rs600,000.

Addressing the session in National Assembly, the minister for religious affairs announced relief for those who will perform Hajj through a government scheme.

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He said that the expenditure to perform Hajj from the government scheme was initially set to be about Rs1.1 million this year. However, the new government has made better deals with Saudi hotels at half prices.

He said that the previous government had booked the residential buildings in Makkah from 2600 to 3500 riyals per pilgrim, adding that the new government has booked them at a discounted rate of 2100 riyals. He further explained that rooms in Medina were booked for 2100 riyals by the previous government. But the new government has booked them for only 720 riyals, he said.

Besides the cost of a stay, the cost for meals has been reduced as well to make room for more people to perform Hajj, he added. Thus the total expenditure will be Rs600,000 per head, he said.

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Earlier, the Ministry of Religious Affairs had proposed expenditure of Rs850,000 per person for pilgrims under a government scheme.

Mufti Abdul Shakoor said that traditionally the preparations for the next Hajj used to start with the end of Hajj every year; thus giving a time of seven to eight months. However, this time the preparations had been delayed due to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) has started receiving applications for issuing electronically entry permits to Makkah for some sections of expatriates, including domestic workers, workers of companies and establishments operating within the holy city, and holders of seasonal work visas and those who entered into contracts with firms registered in the Ajeer system for temporary work for the upcoming Hajj season.

The service, available through the “Absher Individuals” platform for permits for domestic workers, will facilitate the beneficiaries by saving time and effort, Saudi Gazette reported. The entry point permits for other categories can be obtained through the Muqeem electronic portal.

Separately, a five-day Hajj training workshop continued for pilgrims by the Ministry of Religious Affairs at Alhamra Arts Council on Friday. Punjab Director of Hajj Rehan Abbas Khokhar chaired the session.

On the second day, Rehan Abbas said, “The Directorate of Hajj Punjab has been making every effort to provide complete training to pilgrims so that they can avoid any difficulty in performing Hajj. “We must seek guidance from ulema regarding the performing of Hajj in an exact manner,” he added.

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