Indian Haj pilgrims won’t be able to avail deluxe stay in Saudi Arabia this year, though they will be paying Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 more than they did last year.
This is due to the increase in exchange rate of the Saudi Riyal and cost escalation in accommodation.
“One Saudi Riyal was equal to Rs 11.64 in 2008 while it is Rs 13.31 this year,” Haj Committee of India chief executive officer Mohammad Owais said. “The cost of accommodation in Saudi Arabia has also gone up.”
The Haj body has scrapped the ‘green deluxe’ category of accommodation after the Consulate General of India in Jeddah informed it of non-availability of the building near Makkah. “About 20,000 pilgrims who had applied for deluxe stay will now be accommodated in ‘green ordinary’ category,” Owais said.
There are four categories of accommodation for pilgrims, depending on the distance from Makkah and Madinah, the twin holy cities. While ‘green ordinary’ costs Rs 1,15,000, a pilgrim has to pay about 1,06,000 for ‘white’ and ‘duwar kudai’ and Rs Rs 99,000 for ‘aziziya’. The charges include Rs 12,000 as airfare.
The Saudi government will allow 1,60,000 pilgrims from India this year.