Economic experts have said Hajj and Umrah revenues are poised to exceed $150 billion by 2022, in light of the expected mergers of economic blocs and groupings to meet the growing demand on Hajj and Umrah economics in terms of transport, commercial stores and expansion in small, medium enterprises (SMEs).
Muhsin Al-Sharif, a member of the Committee of Real Estate and Investment, said Hajj revenues will feed the national economy and, therefore, an integrated plan should be worked out to control revenues and financial resources in a manner that would serve Vision 2030.
"The plan would also serve the national economy and create a mega market not only for seasonal jobs, but also for sustainable jobs which form the nerve of Hajj and Umrah economics," Al-Sharif said.
He said the announced plan to host 30 million pilgrims and Umrah performers by 2030 is a real mirror of plans to bring markets in Mecca and Madinah out of disorganization and put them into well-organized economic frameworks serving changing economic mechanisms that attract high returns estimated at billions of dollars annually.
Accordingly, specialized research centers should be established in coordination with the Institute of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Hajj and Umrah and the Mecca Chamber of Commerce and Industry to provide the economic index, act as a nucleus to attract Saudi capital, and fix the economic figures for Hajj and Umrah seasons in the National Transformation Plan (NTP) 2020.
Al-Sharif added there are a number of opportunities that serve SMEs as they serve a wide sector of Hajjis and Umrah performers.
He said the volume of revenues arising from Hajj and Umrah economics in the next five years is expected to hit $150 billion. However, a small category of investors are exploiting foreign workers and controlling the capital flows which should be fed into investments in the Hajj and Umrah sectors to reflect the dynamics of the growing revenues of the sector, according to Al-Sharif.
He added the $150 billion should be directed to re-structure the sector and re-arrange its priorities instead of pumping such money out of the Kingdom. Additionally, decision makers have to be informed on the creation of 100,000 permanent Hajj-related jobs for Saudis.
Economic aspects of Hajj and Umrah cannot be ignored as they are capable of providing high profit margins in light of mega challenges facing the sector, which will pave the way for the capital flow to Mecca and Madinah, not only in Hajj and Umrah business for the SME sector, but also for the hospitality and hotel sectors.
By Tariq Al-Thaqafi
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