Bangladesh’s Hajj quota this year is 127,000
So far only 32,000 pilgrims have registered
Bangladesh is struggling to meet its Hajj quota as the local currency continues to lose its value and skyrocketing airfares this season are making the journey impossible for many hopeful pilgrims.
This year, 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims can participate in the Hajj, a spiritual journey and one of the five pillars of Islam. The quota was agreed upon by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh earlier this year.
The Hajj registration opened on Feb. 8, but so far only 32,000 people have applied as of Wednesday.
Authorities say the situation is unprecedented.
“I haven’t heard of such a situation ever happening in our country,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj Office Dhaka, told Arab News.
This year, the Hajj will start on June 26 and end on July 1. Registration for the pilgrimage in Bangladesh runs through March 7.
“I believe the number of registered pilgrims will increase on March 7. We are hopeful,” Islam said, adding, however, that the government is not planning any subsidies to address the situation.
Hajj tour operators attribute the problem to high inflation in Bangladesh and pricey airfares to the Middle East, which have significantly increased since last year.
“It happens here due to the devaluation of the taka against the dollar,” said Maulana Eyaqub Sharafati, senior vice president of the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh.
“Airfares for Hajj pilgrims have increased by around $580 this year compared to last year. It was $1,400 last year, but this year it is fixed at around $2,000.”
But he has not lost hope, as the number of pilgrims this year is the country’s highest Hajj quota since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our government is keeping the registration process open round the clock. Our people are working also day and night,” Sharafati said. “Inshallah, everything will be fine.”
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