IN BANGLADESH: Hajj registration slumps, only 63 percent quota make payment

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Bangladesh has registered a significantly low turnout for Hajj registration this year, as only 63 per cent of the country’s quota has so far been fulfilled, despite the extension of the registration period four times.

Against such a backdrop, the authorities are scheduled to close the registration on Tuesday.

It was learned through conversations with some aspiring pilgrims and owners of some Hajj agencies that the high exchange rate of dollars, increased cost of Hajj, and house rent hike in Saudi Arabia led to the slump in the registration. Also, there has been growing interest for Umrah among Muslims here.

After closing the registration on 6 February, the religious affairs ministry will inform the authorities in Saudi Arabia about the number of registered Hajj pilgrims and return the unfulfilled registration quota, according to sources.

This year, there is a quota for 127,198 Hajj pilgrims from Bangladesh, while the registration count was 79,862 until Saturday noon – 4,165 under government arrangement and the remaining 75,697 under private agencies.

Those who have completed pre-registration have to complete the final registration by 29 February, depositing the remaining amount in the bank.

As the people’s overall financial condition is not so good, a large number of pilgrims now prefer Umrah to Hajj due to the lower cost (ranging from Tk 100,000 to 150,000).

Mahfuzur Rahman, managing partner of Raihan Air International
The final registration started on 15 November and was supposed to end on 10 December. Initially, the time was extended till 31 December, and it was followed by some more rounds of extension.

Asked about the issue, Motiul Islam, additional secretary of the religious affairs ministry, said the count of Umrah pilgrims has increased due to the growing tendency of deferring Hajj for sometime later. He also noted the rising house rent in Saudi Arabia as the old houses in Makkah and Medina are going through a process of renovation. The new houses are charging high rents.

The quota of Hajj pilgrims from Bangladesh has been 127,198 since 2017, with complete suspensions in 2020 and 2021 and a limited quota of 60,000 in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bangladesh fulfilled the quota of Hajj pilgrims in 2017 and 2022, while the count of pilgrims was 126,798 in 2018 and 126,923 in 2019.

M Shahadat Hossain, president of the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), said many devotees could not make decisions timely due to the national polls. Besides, there was a surge in Umrah pilgrims after the pandemic due to the restriction on Hajj pilgrims above 65.

The HAAB president also attributed the slump in Hajj pilgrims to the rising cost and the high exchange rate of dollars.

Asked about the issue, a managing partner of Raihan Air International, Mahfuzur Rahman, said as the people’s overall financial condition is not so good, a large number of pilgrims now prefer Umrah to Hajj due to the lower cost (ranging from Tk 100,000 to 150,000).

He also disclosed that some 30 per cent of the pre-registered ones moved away from their decision of performing Hajj this year, while 20 per cent applied for canceling their registration.
Source: Dhakar tribune