Nigerian prospective pilgrims to Saudi Arabia are likely to pay more during the Muslim holy month of fasting, as the value of naira continues to deteriorate.
Nigeria’s 150,000 intending pilgrims will compete for the 45,000 seat slots assigned to the country by the Saudi Arabian government for 2022’s hajj. The pandemic of 2020 and safety precautionary measures in 2021 restrained Saudi Arabia from hosting Hajj. Therefore, intending pilgrims who had paid for the hajj exercise in 2020 and 2021 would be looking to capitalize on this year’s exercise.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently announced that 1 million pilgrims would be allowed to perform the hajj exercise, with 85% allocated to external pilgrims.
- This is a 50% reduction of the 2 million pilgrims that performed the exercise hajj pre-Covid.
- Nigeria usually gets 95,000 slots pre-covid, but the reduction sees the number cut to 45,000 or 50,000.
Reports reveal that a price hike is imminent due to the recent economic crisis in Nigeria as hajj fare for 2022 has risen from N1.5 million in 2019 to a projected N2.5 million or N3 million. This fare includes flight fares, accommodation, basic travelling allowance, amongst others.
- In 2019, the official exchange rate was N306 to $1, but now it is set at N416 in official channels and N580/N585 in black markets.
- Again, visas in 2019 cost N250,000 while now it is projected at N500,000.
What this means
Pilgrims would have to plan a budget that accommodates the economic reality of present-day Nigeria.