Hajj: Price rises making pilgrimage increasingly unaffordable

Some 1.8 million Muslims from across the world made it to Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to mark the most important day of the Hajj. But due to global price rises, the pilgrimage is becoming increasingly unaffordable.

“The number of bookings has significantly dropped this year. It’s too costly for many people,” says an employee at a private Egyptian tour operator in charge of organising Hajj trips, who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of a backlash over their criticism of their country’s economic situation.

In Egypt, the most populous Arab country, the cheapest government-sponsored pilgrimage currently costs around $6,000 (£4,720) – double what it was last year.

The price hike has been fuelled by the sharp devaluation of the Egyptian pound, which has lost more than 50% of its value against the US dollar since March 2022. As a result, the cost of living has also skyrocketed, with annual core inflation hitting 40% in May.

About 30% of the population was living below the government’s poverty line before the Covid-19 pandemic, and the World Bank says the figure is likely to have risen since then.

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