Jeddah: The number of Haj pilgrims is expected to reach five million and Umrah pilgrims 30 million in the next five years, said Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar on Thursday.
Speaking to businessmen in Madinah, he said the ministry has completed preparations to receive a record number of Umrah pilgrims during Ramadan, which is likely to begin on June 18, according to Arab News.
“We have taken into consideration the huge increase in the number of pilgrims in the coming years,” Hajjar said and urged private service providers to extend the best possible services to the guests of God.
The minister said the opening of the new King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed International Airport in Madinah would help improve services to pilgrims.
“The expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will help accommodate huge numbers of pilgrims,” he said.
Mohammed Al-Khatrawi, chairman of Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Haj and Umrah sector would contribute immensely to the Kingdom’s GDP and support its diversification drive.
“It’s one of the largest revenue earning and job creating sectors,” the chairman said, adding that it was contributing greatly to the region’s economy. It offers the best option to diversify revenue sources for the region, Al-Khatrawi said. “It can also boost investment and reduce dependence on oil revenue.”
The meeting discussed prospects of improving services to the millions of domestic and foreign pilgrims who visit Madinah after performing Haj and Umrah.