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Low-cost Hajj services: Ministry of Hajj saves $10 million

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs on Thursday said $10 million has been saved due to low-cost Hajj services that would be provided to Afghan pilgrims this year.

The amount has been saved in airfare, food and accommodation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Faiz Mohammad Osmani said, adding that $7 million have been saved in round trip tickets and $3 million in food and stay facilities in the kingdom.

Speaking at the press conference, he said that this year the Afghan pilgrims would not face any problem during their trip to the kingdom.

He said that a delegation of the ministry has visited Saudi Arabia and resolved the challenges that were faced by Afghan pilgrims in the past.

“Along with 13 other officials, I visited Saudi Arabia for 30 days. We tried to spot the problems faced by Afghans. After finding the challenges, we signed several agreements with private companies to provide facilities to Afghan pilgrims including standard accommodation and food,” he said.

The ministry remained successful in finding accommodation for 24,000 pilgrims near Makkah.

Regarding provision of food, the minister said that based on the contract the restaurant would provide different types of cooked food including Afghani dishes, from the first day up to the end of their pilgrimage journey. Afghan pilgrims will receive three times food parcels a day, only in Makkah.

He added that according to the contracts, the Afghan pilgrims would not bring Zamzam water with them, but the company that signed the contract would cargo it to Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Regarding airfare, he said that last year the cost of each round-trip ticket was $2,700 while this year the airfare has been reduced to $2,450. He said that Ariana Afghan Airlines would transport the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

According to him, this year 12,000 Afghan pilgrims would land in Madina‏ and 12,000 others in Jeddah. They will return to Kabul at the same way.

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