Hajj season drives 40-currency exchange boom in Saudi Arabia

Published September 8th, 2016 - 05:16 GMT
Pilgrims circling the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, on September 6, 2016.  (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Pilgrims circling the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, on September 6, 2016. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The Hajj season activates the Saudi exchange market for being the most prominent sector during the year when the number of traded currencies reaches 40. The U.S. dollar tops the list as it acquires up to 80% of the total trading, according to Waleed Marzouq, the business manager of Adel Multani, a senior money exchange businessman in Makkah.

Marzouq told Asharq Al-Awsat that the demand on the U.S. dollar witnessed a first of its kind rise this year. He said: “We are facing a scarcity in U.S. dollar volume because the number of pilgrims is few this season therefore the imported currency is less as well.”

He continued that daily trading is not exceeding the SAR1 million in the best case scenario due to the low number of pilgrims this season. “The demand on the U.S. dollar this year exceeds any previous one because it is wanted all over the world and is the most stable compared to other currencies. Huge drop in demand on the Euro currency in the Saudi exchange market compared with previous years is due to tensions that occurred in Europe during the summer,” Marzouq added.

Mohammed Amin, the owner of an exchange company, said that exchange stores operate in an occasional manner and that the market witnesses a boom during the hajj season which coincides with Eid al-Adha.

The world fluctuation in currency prices does not necessarily have an impact on the demand volume in Saudi Arabia. According to unofficial estimates, the number of exchange stores in Saudi Arabia reaches 3,200 mostly located in Makkah, Jeddah and Medina.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) stressed that no exchange operations shall be performed without acquiring a license from the agency.

By Eman Al Khattaf
 

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