In this interview given to Oumma, Djamel presents us in more detail HARAMAIN TRAVEL. This expert in religious and ethical tourism insists in particular on the moral contract which binds his agency to each pilgrim, bearer of essential Islamic values, such as transparency, respect for commitments, honesty, while evoking the main developments in the tourism market. Hajj, the major role of the NusukHajj platform, as well as the supervision of pilgrims.
Finally, he explains how to successfully organize a pilgrimage that will leave lasting memories.
What pushed you to create HARAMAIN VOYAGES?
I have been working professionally in the religious and ethical tourism sector for more than 15 years. I have acquired perfect mastery of this field of activity. Faced with the increasingly strong demand in this area and the increasingly greater and pressing expectations expressed by the approximately 10 million Muslims in France, I decided to take the plunge and create my own agency.
In addition, the normalization of Umrah travel reaches a wide audience. Visas are now easier to obtain than before to travel to Saudi Arabia.
Like part of my team, I live in Medina for a large part of the year, and therefore I have a real knowledge of the terrain and the functioning of the Saudi administrations which manage the Hajj and Umrah. My pragmatic approach to the workings of the activity constitutes a significant asset.
How do you stand out from existing agencies in France? Why choose HARAMAIN VOYAGES to carry out the Hajj?
I would say to choose excellence! Indeed, we have to our credit more than ten Hajjs organized successfully, turnkey and with complete peace of mind, as highlighted by our slogan:
“Go with complete peace of mind.”
More than 4,000 pilgrims have trusted us over the last ten years. Our experience, which has been consolidated and enriched over time, and our expertise speak for us.
Whether they are of short or medium duration (between 15 and 16 nights or between 21 and 22 nights), the Hajj that we are keen to organize in the best possible conditions, especially since the great pilgrimage is often undertaken only once in a lifetime, including the return flight, transfers between the two holy cities, as well as between airports and hotels, procedures to obtain visas, support from our bilingual team during the various rites, accommodation in luxury hotels with breakfast and dinner included, without forgetting the legislated visits to religious and historical places…
As for Umrah, this little pilgrimage that is just as exhilarating and highly spiritual, we make sure to prepare it with the same rigor, in order to once again guarantee our customers a magnificent stay, enchanting in many ways. And this, thanks to varied formulas, capable of satisfying all requirements and accessible to all budgets.
Furthermore, we are one of the rare agencies that organized the Hajj in 2023 under its new BtoC (Business to Client) format, during its second edition. It was a very enriching and rewarding experience. We learned a lot.
What are the main developments in the Hajj market that you have observed in recent years?
Basically, the agencies had their quota which was granted by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. In 2022, just after the COVID19 crisis, the Saudi authorities made the decision to implement the BtoC system for countries in which Muslims represent a minority.
The Saudi company MOUTAWIF was responsible for organizing the Hajj via its platform, but the management of this project proved catastrophic, and very few pilgrims were able to leave France.
In 2023, the NusukHajj platform was created to reorganize the BtoC Hajj. But its success was partial and numerous deficiencies appeared, especially in terms of payment terms, as well as the products offered which turned out to be too expensive in relation to the quality offered. In addition, the customer support was very unqualified and the information was dribbled out on their site.
Many pilgrims suffered from this. They found themselves without a guide and without an interlocutor on the ground. It is the guides of qualified agencies, of which HARAMAIN VOYAGES is a part, who have, on the whole, assisted the pilgrims throughout their journey and helped them to accomplish their Hajj.
What is the procedure to follow to register for Hajj 2024?
Each pilgrim must register on the NusukHajj website, register their identity documents and must then access the “Under examination” stage.
You must then contact the agency with which you wish to go, by contacting its managers. It is recommended to choose the package corresponding to the pilgrim’s expectations, in coordination with the agency of their choice.
Final step: make payment on the NusukHajj website, by crediting your electronic wallet (eWallet) via your credit card or by transfer.
How does payment work according to the chosen formula?
The pilgrim has the option of paying in several installments. The required amount must be credited in Saudi Riyals, regardless of the currency you pay with.
The pilgrim has the option of paying either by credit card or by transfer, in order to credit his eWallet electronic wallet. The number of transactions is unlimited.
What is the role of the NusukHajj platform in Hajj logistics?
The NusukHajj platform is the only website made available by the Saudi authorities to perform Hajj, and this concerns 128 countries around the world. The list of these countries can be found on the NusukHajj website.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has accredited, this year, ten local companies for the organization of Hajj 2024. These ten Saudi companies are local service providers, responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the pilgrimage from start to finish for pilgrims. coming from these countries.
These companies will offer formulas with different levels of services, ranging from standard formulas to very luxurious formulas.
The guides who accompany the pilgrims will be selected in collaboration with local agencies and service providers. The latter will have the essential mission of supervising pilgrims on the religious aspect and certain logistical aspects.
The various other aspects and phases of the trip are the responsibility of local service providers, who will be responsible for supervising hotel stays, travel and other excursions, catering, etc.
How is the supervision of pilgrims in the Holy Land during the performance of the rites?
Each pilgrim will be referred to a dedicated religious guide, who will come from France and will be directly positioned on the packages offered on the NusukHajj platform. The choice of guides is made in consultation with the travel agency and the local service provider.
What happens if pilgrims travel without an agency?
On paper, it is not possible to travel for the Hajj without an agency, and therefore without a guide, because each package offered is linked to a guide who, in turn, is linked to an agency.
However, in 2023, the NusukHajj platform proposed a formula called “MASHAIR”, in which pilgrims only benefited from accommodation in tents during the six days of the pilgrimage. This year this formula will probably not be offered.
Why have Hajj prices literally exploded?
The cost of the Hajj is impacted by the annual inflation of services. We should also not forget the introduction of VAT at 5% in 2018, then at 15% in 2020.
Added to this is the overall increase in the quality of services in the field of Hajj, which has had the effect of pushing prices upwards. In addition, the reduction in the quota dedicated to countries included in the NusukHajj platform, with high demand, contributed to skyrocketing prices.
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