Pakistani businesses resume Hajj and Umrah after 2-year coronavirus hiatus

  • Medina Market in Rawalpindi, a favorite place for Hajj necessities
  • Prices have been raised to a higher level: the pilgrims

ISLAMABAD: Business related to Hajj and Umrah has increased again this year as pilgrims and their families go to Hajj markets after Saudi Arabia has increased the number of pilgrims. to entrants from outside the Kingdom after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Saudi Arabia has allowed 1 million people from inside and outside the Kingdom to perform this year’s Hajj, limited to 1,000 local residents in 2020.

Last year, the Government limited travel to 60,000 domestic entries, up from 2.5 million before the coronavirus pandemic. Pilgrims for this Hajj season must not be over 65 and fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In Pakistan, which has been given a quota of 81,132 people for the Hajj, pilgrims often want the Hajj houses to complete their list of about 40 things necessary for the journey, including clothing. ihram, prayer shawls, rosaries, hats, belts, shoes. , unscented soaps and pebble bags.

A favorite place for this type of shopping is Madinah Market in Rawalpindi, which has over 200 shops in a large mall in the narrow and crowded streets of the city’s famous Raja Bazaar.

“The business was dead for two years, but it has started to grow again with the revival of Hajj and Umrah,” said Muhammad Usman Nawab, who has been selling Hajj and Umrah items for 25 years. , told Arab News.

Pilgrims and their families from Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan beat the speed of Rawalpindi’s traffic to visit the shops of Hajj Bazaar, especially to buy the ihram, a two-piece white garment. parts, etc.

“Prices have almost doubled for everything and the number of customers has fallen below 50%,” said Nawab. “The customers are not ready to eat the high prices and it becomes difficult for us. But we thank Allah because our business has started again.

“The price of everything has increased, but I am happy to go to the house of Allah with my family,” Malik Zaheer, an avid traveler, told Arab News. “Allah invited me from this small number… I am lucky that he invited us. »

Arshad Kamran, who has been selling Hajj clothes and related items in the market in Madinah for five years, said that he tries to offer reasonable prices in his shop.

“Inflation and taxes have doubled the prices of everything, but our business is a little different,” he told Arab News. “It is directly related to Allah because people have the same thoughts and desires. »

Arshad Mahmood, who performed Hajj in 2018 and is buying an ihram for his younger brother, lamented the high prices of Hajj items.

“Everything was easy (in 2018), but now the inflation has increased,” he said, adding that the market in Medina is smaller so that his Hajj purchases are easier. “I don’t have to drive between different markets to complete my wish list. »



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