Tomorrow is the final day to submit passports for placing of Haj visa by the Saudi Consulate in London.
With that, we see the end of this year's pilgrimage season. Another year has passed us by.
In my personal experience of this Umra and Haj work, this year's Haj has been profoundly difficult.
The re-development plan for Makkah has been pivotal, in the main, for difficulties which led to inflated price charged by the owners of existing accommodations be that buildings or hotels of all grades.
This is likely to be the case for the next 5 years or more until they develop the Jabal Umar site located on Ibrahim Khalil Street behind Dar Tawheed intercontinental hotel.
Then, the world recession has led to the fall of the value of the Pound Sterling which stung everyone throughout the world excepting those countries whose monetary system is tied to the US $.
Those handful of Haj Agents who successfully sold out their package, have incurred loss and their loss is substantial. Those who failed to sell theirs have suffered the most and some of them are likely to fail and terminate their business altogether.
There has been a quantum fall in the number of pilgrims going for haj from UK this year. Licensed agents has failed to acquire around 7,000 barcodes this year. Add that to the fall in the sale by those who did make arrangements and you get the grim picture.
I believe that there will be only 12 to 15 thousand Hujjajs this year in total as compared to last year where around 24 thousand performed their hajj.
Umra season for the year 1430 AH should begin in mid March 2009, InshaAllah, if all is well and equal with the ministry of haj.