Thousands Of Malaysian Pilgrims Are Stranded In Mecca After Tour Agencies Duped Them

Some of the stranded include elderly pilgrims who are facing health issues.

Cover image via New Straits Times

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Thousands of Malaysian pilgrims are currently stranded in Mecca and Medina after allegedly being deceived by tour and travel agencies

According to Harian Metro, these agencies had promised the pilgrims with Haji Mujamalah visas issued by Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj this year but instead applied for tourist visas.

"Thousands of pilgrims have been misled by these agencies offering cheap Hajj packages from ranging RM45,000 to RM60,000 per person," the Malay daily quoted Afiz Ayub, a Hajj tours organiser, as saying.

Earlier, the New Straits Times had reported that about 300 Malaysian pilgrims in Mecca were unable to perform Hajj after the Umrah tour agency responsible for organising their pilgrimage had applied for tourist visas.

While Muslims can use tourist visas to perform Umrah, they need Haji Mujamalah visas to perform Hajj.

Among those stranded, some elderly pilgrims are facing health issues

The pilgrims are being confined to their hotel rooms by the agencies, which fear that any attempts to seek medical treatment could result in their detention by Saudi authorities, said Afiz.

"Pilgrims are also increasingly stressed, and their family members in Malaysia have been calling for updates and advice, worried about the safety of their parents," the daily quoted him as saying.

He also stated that the number of pilgrims deceived by the agencies is expected to increase.

"The truth is that every day, there are flights carrying Malaysians to Mecca from KLIA to perform Umrah," he said, adding that some pilgrims have been there since Ramadan and have been staying for an extended period.

Image via Harian Metro

Meanwhile, the pilgrims have been informed that they need to lodge a complaint or file an official report with Tabung Haji and the Malaysian Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for further investigation

According to Tabung Haji group managing director and chief executive officer Syed Hamadah Syed Othman, all Umrah pilgrims are urged to comply with the regulations set by the Saudi Arabian government.

"The regulations set by the Saudi Arabian government and Tabung Haji aim to safeguard the welfare and safety of pilgrims during the Hajj season," he said in a statement, as reported by the New Straits Times.

He was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na'im Mokhtar's call for Tabung Haji to investigate the case.

Mohd Na'im had also advised Muslims to only employ the services of companies appointed as Hajj Pilgrimage Operators by Tabung Haji to conduct their pilgrimage.

Tabung Haji group managing director and chief executive officer Syed Hamadah Syed Othman.

Image via New Straits Times

In 2022, five locals were arrested to assist investigations into an alleged Hajj scam that duped about 380 would-be pilgrims:

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