Muslim pilgrims attend Friday prayers at the Grand Mosque and its surrounding area during the annual haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca October 19, 2012. – Reuters

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia raised $16.5 billion from Muslim pilgrimages this year to Mecca and Medina in the west of the kingdom, a Saudi newspaper reported on Thursday.

Al-Hayat, citing religious tourism sources, said a total of 12 million pilgrims visited Islam's holiest sites during the annual hajj which took place this year at the end of October or for the year-long umra, or minor pilgrimage.

The pilgrims - including 3.1 million who made the hajj, including 1.7 million from abroad, according to official figures - spent 62 billion riyals ($16.5 billion), a rise of 10 percent over 2011 because of increased costs, it said.

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Comments (35)

November 9, 2012 11:39 am
It may look like this from cursory glance. But they are managing the most heavily visited places on Earth. Providing food, lodging, transport for 3.1 million.To me it seems they are doing a rather good job. If they wouldn't then who can stop providence from interfering.
November 9, 2012 4:58 am
The pilgrimage has been a racket since the very beginning .
November 9, 2012 4:27 am
Is that amount the total business done in Mecca and Medina or the tax revenues collected by government for the year from pilgrims???? I am little confused because with that money one can run a country.
November 9, 2012 3:51 am
Why? The article is very misleading. 16 Billion is the gross revenue amount. It is not net profit. You need to take into account the cost of maintaining such a huge place where 12 million people can come, stay, rest, pray, use the toilets, eat, and be secure. During haj the government feeds the hajis. At the last Hajj they served Black Forest cake to every Haji, That goes for about $5 a slice here. 3 million times 5 = $15 million. you add up the security, logistics, maintenance, medical, power, water, transportation, roads and rails, communication it all adds up very fast. Let me give something you can work with - The cost of the London Olympics was $12 billion - that does not include the cost of housing the teams. Why not ask the British to donate the money they made from the ticket sales.
November 9, 2012 3:42 am
Saudis should make better arrangements for the transportation, residence and meal arrangements. I performed Hajj three years ago. It took us about 8 hours from Jeddah to Makkah. The travel arrangements between Makkah, Jabal Arafat, Mina were absolutely horrible. Flight arrangements at Jeddah airport were a mess. Where does the money go ?
November 8, 2012 5:26 pm
The money is used for the maintenance of the holy sites and continuous expansion of the place. If you ever visit the place, you will for sure agree that indeed it is money well spent.
Muhammad Omer Khan
November 8, 2012 2:07 pm
The Saudi government spends most of the earned money on the maintenance of the Haramain Shareefain, A lot of money has to be spent to maintain these holy places. I find the attitude of the Saudi employees justifiable, because some people just don't listen when spoken to politely. They perform biddats if they are not stopped.
November 8, 2012 1:49 pm
the services they are providing are far better than would be provided if our govt had control over these sites. You get everything of international standard.
November 8, 2012 11:48 am
i think they Saudis should not earn money out of religious ceremonies, rather donate it back to poor communities.
inam noor
November 8, 2012 11:46 am
Saudi govt should guide its employees in the Hajj constituency to be very polite with the pilgrims, as their rudeness generally hurt the religious tourists from around the world.
November 8, 2012 2:52 pm
Sorry i did not get this experiene.How many millions come to SA evey year.Any thought?
November 8, 2012 3:26 pm
After all they are Arabs. They have their own attitude. This is we who consider them better than ourselves because we have a slavery concept in our brain somewhere.
November 8, 2012 3:25 pm
and why do you think so?
Mahbubul Hoque
November 8, 2012 2:58 pm
What is the opinion of Islamic scholars about the earning from Hajj, whether it is legal (halal).
November 8, 2012 7:54 pm
I went for hajj this year and alhamdolillah it went very well. But the Saudi goverment needs to spend more of their earnings on facilitating the hajjis. I saw dumps of garbage lying around at night outside camps in mina. It was v disturbing. How can u pray with such filth around u?
November 9, 2012 9:41 pm
Religion without education is also of no use.
Nazar Sandhu
November 8, 2012 1:14 pm
What a waste!! Instead of spending money on pilgrimages Muslims should spend the $16 billion on education for children.
November 9, 2012 9:19 pm
This has a source of earnings for Arabia for over 1500 years, nice franchise operation
shajia ahmed
November 8, 2012 4:00 pm
I believe whatever the govt earns it spends on the maintenance Haram(Makkah) and the grand mosque in Madinah. I am saying this as I saw the exemplary facilities of the govt during my recent trip to Saudia.
November 9, 2012 11:52 am
It may look like this from cursory glance. But they are managing the most heavily visited places on Earth. Providing food, lodging, transport for 3.1 million.To me it seems they are doing a rather good job. If they wouldn’t then who can stop providence from interfering.
November 8, 2012 5:16 pm
Saudi Tourism policy is made by USA and they have built very expensive hotels for the rich kings and queens. It is unislamic way of life after so much poverty right cross in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to name few. If Prophet Muhammed(pbuh) was here he would've brrn really angry at the lifestyle of Saudi Kings and their partners. They want to take spiritaulity out of Mecca and that's why they have destroyed all historical places including Prophets places of visits and holy graves(shrines)and replacing them with multibillion hotel.Now people have more places to shop and stay in malls and hotes then to visit holy places in Mecca.
November 8, 2012 4:51 pm
i dont agree, they use this money for expansion projects which we all enjoy when we visit the place and if they make a small profit from it then why not. We are all amazed at how beautiful the Haram's are, and that comes at a cost.
November 8, 2012 1:25 pm
It is hoped that this significant amount would used wisely for the benefit of those visiting the holy places and any surplus would be placed in a separate fund for future use and to subsidise future costs to minimise price increases to enable more people to perform the hajj/umra.People must not forget that they will be accountable on the day of judgement how they use the available resources.
Agha Ata (USA)
November 8, 2012 1:28 pm
I see no difference between the Pope (Roman Catholic Church) and the Saudi government. They both use their religions as a money making device.
Ali Hussain
November 8, 2012 10:36 pm
The Saudis should provide better facilities for Hajjis. There should be more bathrooms and water in Arafat, Muzdalifa, and Mina. After three days in Mina, the communities become so polluted that it looks like a slum. The security forces should be trained better. There should be more emphasis on Madina -- the city of the Prophet. Compared to Makkah, the facilities are much worse in Madina. The Rail line between Makkah and Madina should be materialized. Otherwise there have been much improvements ..... Jeddah airport functioning is really good now, lots of 3 star hotels, etc etc.
November 8, 2012 3:13 pm
I believe this money is used for expansion projects. There were times when some thousand persons could do Hajj now 3.1 Million. Train service has reduced huge amount of time that was wasted in long lines of buses. We should not jump on conclusions but need to think positive ant try to find facts before criticising someone.
November 8, 2012 3:11 pm
....towards the two holy places (Mecca and Medina).
November 8, 2012 3:10 pm
i don't think they would even care on that.. there arrogance speaks volumes.. ideally should have been a role model for all muslim countries, but instead they try to gain from the muslim pilgrims on their religious sentiments towards the two holy.
November 8, 2012 2:30 pm
To be honest, i went for Hajj this year and i found them to be quite polite given the circumstances and arrangements were pretty satisfactory as well but then again i took a premium package from USA so it could be different given ones situation.
Rais Akhtar
November 9, 2012 5:48 am
I think what Saudi Govt. is doing it needed appreciation from all side. Just think People who visit Saudi Arabia do not know their language do not know their culture most of them are totally unaware with new civic & civil facilities are available over there. I & my family Salute them Thousand & Thousand time to manage such big PROGRAM like HAJJ. In addition one can say there is lot of room for improvement & I believe consistently they are doing every year. I personally is witnessed just for information with the blessing of ALLAH I have been honored to perform my HAJJ in 1979 & last I have been BLESSED in 2003 & it was like we are on PIKNICK no problem what so ever in compare 1979. I wish them very best & Pray May Allah Reward them BEST.
November 9, 2012 6:30 am
Nazar this universe is Allah's creation. HE has made Hajj a venue to forgive our sins and repent. Its an opportunity to save ourselves from the hell fire. I pray Allah gives guidance to those who do not understand. Ameen
November 9, 2012 7:09 am
Saudi's must not make it a source of earning.
Muhammad yousaf
November 9, 2012 6:24 pm
In these comments some confusion is going on .... The money the pilgrims spend is on basic items for hajjis ...Saudi government don't make any money from hajjis . The hajjis spend their money on flights, bus transportations between mekka and medina. Also they stay in the holy land they buy food etc..... Did any haji paid any taxes etc to SA...none whatsoever. I agree re cleanliness. Water and washroom facilities ...they were very poorly maintained. The authorities should keep them clean
November 9, 2012 10:10 am
education without religion is of no use. it makes you a machine. pilgrimage overhauls your soul and reminds you of your true goals.
November 8, 2012 7:00 pm
This article needs to be more clear. At one point you say that Saudi netted 16.5 billion, implying that the Saudis were pocketing the money. On the other hand in the body of the article you say that pilgrims spent 16.5 billion, which would mean that this figure includes what they paid for their plane tickets and hotel fares, most of which would be going to non Saudi corporations.
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