Black market thrives as Haj missions fail to find housing
They claimed some missions were trying to control the real estate business by providing accommodation on the black market to gain money for themselves.
The sources said pilgrims from various countries have refused to accept the buildings chosen for them by their Haj missions because they were either unsuitable or far away from the Grand Mosque. They said the Ministry of Haj had to intervene to provide these pilgrims with accommodation and meals after their own missions failed to do so.
The sources, however, believed that the problems would be eliminated next year, as the responsibility for allocating accommodation would be assigned to the Tawafa establishments. “A number of buildings chosen by some Haj missions were not convenient for their pilgrims. They either lacked proper facilities, not spacious enough or were far away from the Grand Mosque,” said Zuhair Saddaio, chairman of the board of directors of the Tawafa establishment for Southeast Asian pilgrims. He warned that the missions’ failure to provide proper accommodation for their pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites would undermine the government’s efforts to provide consummate services to pilgrims.
Chairman of the board of directors of the Tawafa Establishment for Non-Arab African Pilgrims Abdul Wahid Seifuddin said the inability of some Haj missions to provide proper accommodation for their pilgrims has led to the appearance of a number of foreign brokers who were renting out buildings on the black market. He said the decision of Prince Naif, second deputy premier, minister of interior and chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, to study the issue of pilgrims’ accommodation and to give the assignment from next year to the Tawafa establishments would solve the problem completely. Seifuddin accused some Haj missions of giving more attention to personal gains rather than the comfort of pilgrims.
The owner of a number of buildings, who did not want to be identified, said many foreign brokers were working as intermediaries between the Haj missions and building owners and making a lot of profits in the process. Chairman of the National Committee for Haj and Umrah and the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saad Al-Qurashi confirmed pilgrims’ accommodation would be the sole responsibility of Tawafa establishments from next year according to Prince Naif’s instructions. He said each Haj mission spends about SR150 million on their pilgrims’ accommodation. Al-Qurashi said about 7,000 buildings consisting of many apartments were rented out to pilgrims in Makkah.
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