The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH); a National Hajj specific organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims welcomes the appointment of Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed bin Hamza Asaad Al-Hajjar as the new Saudi Arabia Hajj Minister. The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK congratulates the Minister for taking this prestigious responsibility. The Association also appreciates the hard work and efforts which are being made by the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to facilitate Hajj/Umrah arrangements for the guests of Allah (SWT).

However, Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK expresses its extreme concern that a vast majority of the pilgrims around the world are suffering from extreme hardship, difficulties, mental anguish, and financial exploitation at the hands of some Hajj/Umrah service providers including airlines and the hotel industry.

It is a disgrace that these service providers are preying on vulnerable pilgrims including sick, elderly, and women cheating and charging them at extortionate and unjustified prices for the Hajj & Umrah packages, which is a total rip-off compared to travel packages to other destinations around the world, in view that many pilgrims are likely to have spent their life-savings to fulfil their desires and wishes to perform their religious obligation.

The situation had got to such a point that stern action had to be taken by the British Crown Court, in its milestone judgement, sentencing a Hajj/Umrah tour operator to jail for deception and exploitation of Hajj/Umrah Pilgrims in December 2011. Therefore, The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK strongly urges the new Hajj Minister Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed should also adopt a zero tolerance policy to crack down on those who are responsible for this growing culture of deception and immoral practices in the Hajj & Umrah service provider industry. This will ensure the welfare and wellbeing of millions of pilgrims from around the world in order to allow them to perform their religious obligation in peace and harmony.