New booking platform for Hajj pilgrimage leaves many distressed
The same old story repeats this year as travellers looking forward to their Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia are facing challenges. A similar incident occurred last year, where several thousands were left confused and devastated after a new faulty booking system called Motawif was introduced.
British Muslims have been outspoken about the difficulties in applying for Hajj packages on the new booking platform called Nusuk. Website glitches, price hikes, issues booking Hajj packages and getting refunds are some of the issues people are having to face, leaving them displeased.
According to reports, Bradford West MP Naz Shah has raised several concerns at a meeting with the Saudi Ambassador to the UK, HRH Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan.
She has confirmed that many in her constituency are dealing with administrative and payment issues, along with the decreased quota for British pilgrims.
Shah has reassured that the Saudi Ambassador to the UK had welcomed the MP’s representations and HRH recognised there were some challenges with the online Hajj system.
Shah said that the Prince has addressed the problem and the Ministry of Hajj was doing everything possible to resolve the issues.
Shabana, 38, who had booked her travel, has been chasing Nusuk for a return of the payment and not heard back from them, according to Telegraph & Argus.
She said, “This year we were told there were going to be improvements. That hasn’t happened. It’s just been an absolute nightmare.
“Everybody assured us it was going to be a better process this year. It’s very stressful. People in the West have got a little bit more disposable income and they just can’t do it.
“Since it opened on May 5, I’ve probably spent about 40 odd hours, nearly 50 hours, just constantly refreshing [the website]. The first day I spent 10 hours. The pages wouldn’t load, the website crashed. It was signing people out. Then it’s trying to get in contact with the bank. I’ve got a full time job. It’s been absolutely stressful for so many people.
“My sister paid £4,500 in 2016. This year I’m paying close to £12,000 so you can see the price difference.
“My money’s stuck somewhere now. I don’t know when I’m going to receive that back. I’m in the process now of do I go? Do I try and look for another package?
“All the mental and spiritual preparation to the financial preparation, there are people ready to go and we’ve had to inform work. I can’t give my work any details.”
Shah said, “I believe it important for me to raise the concerns surrounding Hajj to the Saudi Ambassador, given the huge number of concerns that have been shared with me by constituents.
“HRH, the Ambassador welcomed the feedback and highlighted the huge amount of work taking place directly with the Ministry of Hajj to support British Pilgrims. I was assured further work will also be taking place.
“I was further reassured that the current UK Hajj quota will be looked at further and that lessons from this year will help in providing solutions for the future. I will continue to make representations with the Ambassador to ensure he is aware of the issues my constituents face and can be responded to.”