Saudi Arabia has introduced new charges on Hajj visa's which will come into effect this year. Pilgrims from across the Muslim world will be required to pay $80 in addition to the skyrocketing fees charged by travel agencies to perform what is considered a religious obligation for those that can afford it and are physical able.
Details of the new charges was reported by Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Mujahid Yusof Rawa. He said the newly introduced charge for this year's hajj season would be imposed on pilgrims from all countries.
Saudi Arabian Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh Bin Taher Benten made the announcement during an annual meeting related to the management and preparation of pilgrims from Malaysia for the next hajj season.
During the meeting, representatives of both countries signed an agreement to arrange the arrival of pilgrims and the management of services that would be provided during their stay.
Rawa also said that Riyadh will abolish fees imposed on repeat pilgrims.
Despite its decision to abolish the $533 fee for returning pilgrims, Saudi stands to increase its revenue considerably through the introduction of this new fee which more than three million Muslims will need to pay annually in order to perform their religious duty.
Rawa revealed that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in the near future involving the interests of both countries in the administration of Islamic affairs. According to one Malaysian source, a long discussion on global issues, especially on extremism and Islamophobia, was also held during the meeting.