The pilgrimage industry is the country’s second most important after oil and gas. Nearly two million foreign pilgrims visit the holy city of Mecca annually during Hajj. The figure is expected to reach 2.7 million by 2020.
Hajj, Muslim from all over the world gathered in the Holy City of Mecca to perform Hajj. Millions of muslims are expected to visit this year from all over the world. As flight operation from all over the world has been started, everyday hundreds of flights are landing in Saudi Arabia carrying pilgrims. Bring great revenue to the country.
As the recent oil crisis after Yemen’s war, Saudi Arabia take million of dollars loan from its banks. They in the history first time increases the prices of oil. The black marketing of oil from the Harbour of Aden Yemen has been stop due to the recent war. So in these time of crisis Saudi Arabia started to earn more from Hajj than Oil. They had increased rates of visas for pilgrims. The stay charges during Hajj days have been increased, they aren’t providing good qualities of services, which are clear from last year Hajj incidents.
Economist Abdullah Katib estimates the annual revenue from the Hajj season at $5.3-6.1 billion (20-23 billion Saudi riyals) depending on the number of pilgrims.
“About 40 percent of this revenue comes from housing, 15 percent from gifts, 10 percent from food and the remainder from other services,” Katib said.
The Kingdom is facing a budget deficit which is expected to reach $87 billion last year. The crude price crisis has had an impact on the economy as oil sales account for almost 80 percent of the country’s revenue.
According to economists, religious pilgrimages such as Hajj and Umrah have significant growth potential and the ability to create more job opportunities for young Saudis. The tourism sector contributes $22.6 billion (85 billion Saudi riyals) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP with Hajj and Umrah providing $12 billion (45 billion Saudi riyals) in last year.
Umrah is an extra, optional pilgrimage to Mecca and does not count as the once-in-a-lifetime Hajj pilgrimage. It can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to Hajj.