Moroccan Hajj candidates have paid at least MAD 50,445 each to take part in the pilgrimage.
Rabat – Morocco’s Royal Committee for Hajj has decided to reimburse the 34,000 Moroccan pilgrimage candidates who made payments to take part in the 2020 Hajj season.
The reimbursement campaign, set to begin on July 1 and last until July 24, concerns both the candidates who were planning to travel for the pilgrimage through the state-organized program and those who made plans with private travel agencies.
The royal committee’s announcement comes one day after Saudi Arabia revealed that only residents who are already in the Arab country can take part in this year’s pilgrimage, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To receive reimbursements, the Moroccan candidates are invited to visit the Al-Barid Bank agencies closest to them, in accordance with health safety regulations.
Morocco will automatically prioritize the 34,000 candidates to take part in the 2021 Hajj season and they will not have to go through the regular selection process a second time, the committee announced.
By the end of 2020, the committee is set to hold a meeting to determine the pilgrimage costs and quotas.
This year, Moroccan candidates participating in the state-organized Hajj program paid MAD 50,445 ($5,240). Meanwhile, those who make arrangements with private travel agencies usually pay more expensive prices, based on their airplane tickets, the quality of their hotels, and catering.
This year is the first time Saudi Arabia has banned non-residents from performing Hajj since the unification of the kingdom in 1932.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said Saudi Arabia will organize a “very limited” Hajj, allowing only people already living in the country, from all nationalities, to take part in the pilgrimage.
The ministry also said the number of pilgrims allowed to perform the ritual will be in the thousands, but without reaching 10,000.
The Hajj pilgrimage, scheduled to begin in late July, usually attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe. In 2019, Saudi Arabia welcomed nearly 2.5 million pilgrims during the Hajj period.
The decision to restrict access to Hajj came as Saudi Arabia continues to record high numbers of COVID-19 cases each day. As of June 23, the country recorded more than 164,000 cases of the coronavirus, including nearly 53,000 active cases.