Hajj Expenses for 2024

Islamabad – Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Talha Mahmood, has declared a significant change for Hajj expenses, revealing that starting from next year, all costs associated with Hajj will be collected in US dollars instead of Pakistani currency.

During a press conference held after the completion of this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, Minister Talha Mahmood extended his congratulations to the 160,000 Pakistani pilgrims who had successfully completed their Hajj journey. He also praised Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman for overseeing the exceptional arrangements made for the Hajj.

Minister Mahmood highlighted the absence of any adverse incidents during this year’s Hajj rituals at Jamarat, the site where pilgrims perform the symbolic act of stoning pillars representing the devil. He noted that most pilgrims appeared content with the arrangements, and he shared that the Hajj quota for the following year has been increased to over 179,000.

Emphasizing his commitment to understanding the pilgrims’ experience, the minister mentioned that he personally visited hotels housing Pakistani pilgrims and embarked on the Hajj pilgrimage as an ordinary citizen, despite being offered a special status as a state guest.

The Pakistani mission extended substantial support to the country’s Hajj pilgrims, and Minister Mahmood reported that he discussed issues faced by the pilgrims with the Saudi authorities, who assured him of addressing these concerns in the future.

Minister Mahmood made it clear that he covered his own Hajj expenses as a minister and firmly stated that he did not endorse or allow anyone to undertake a cost-free Hajj pilgrimage, and this stance would continue.

Responding to a question regarding President Arif Alvi’s Hajj delegation, Mahmood indicated that he was not privy to the details of the president’s Hajj plans, as they were unrelated to his ministry.

For the most recent Hajj, a special 50% quota was allocated for the Sponsorship Scheme, an initiative that facilitated pilgrims seeking foreign exchange from abroad through a dedicated dollar account established by the religious affairs ministry.

The government set the Hajj expenses at Rs1.175 million per pilgrim, marking a 68% increase from the previous year’s costs. This hike, driven by skyrocketing inflation, discouraged some Muslims from participating in the pilgrimage. Notably, there was no need for a lottery system for aspiring pilgrims this year; instead, all eligible applicants were permitted to undertake the Hajj.

It’s worth noting that Saudi Arabia welcomed a larger number of pilgrims, approximately 2.3 million, this year, marking a substantial increase after the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions. The 2022 Hajj season had hosted around one million pilgrims within the age bracket of 18 to 65, who were fully vaccinated or immunized against the virus and did not have chronic illnesses.

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