TAIF – Rental rates for accommodations in Makkah and Madina have shot up by 20-40 percent for the last 10 days of Ramadan, hotels report.
The cost rise during the peak Umrah season is mainly because housing units have made way for ongoing expansion work at the Two Holy Harams.
Umrah pilgrimage peaks during the last 10 days of Ramadan when the Laylat Al-Qadr or the ‘Night of Power’ falls. Lailat Al-Qadr marks the night in which the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by Allah. Muslims regard this as the most important event in history, and the Qur’an says that this night is better than a thousand months, and that on this night the angels descend to earth. This is a time that Muslims spend the whole night in prayer or in reciting the Qur’an.
Umrah pilgrims come from all over the world to spend these holy days in the Two Holy Harams.
This year the number of pilgrims is likely to rise sharply since the Eid vacation for government staff starts on Monday and also because of the ongoing school and college holidays.
Demand is such this year that accommodations far away from the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which usually close during Ramadan, are open for business.
At Makkah Refadah Hotel, which is at the far end of Al-Misfala area and some 2 km away from Haram, Purchasing Manager Mohammad Sedaik said prices for the last 10 days of Ramadan are SR3,000 for a double bedroom, SR4,000 for a four-bed room and SR6,000 for a three-room suite.
“Our customers are mostly from the southern region, Riyadh and Taif,” he said. We provide transportation from the hotel to the Haram and back.”
Sedaik added that foreign tourism companies have not made reservations in his hotel because it is far away from Haram.
Stay at Ramada Hotels in Makkah will cost SR7,500 for five nights on a B&B basis, Purchasing Manager Bandar Salem said. The hotel in Ajyad district receives regular clients from Riyadh, Jeddah and Taif, he said. “Our prices are cheap as visas for foreign pilgrims have been stopped,” he said.
In Madina, Ramada Hotels charges SR290 per night per bed in a double room. Reservations are still open, he said.
“More than 1,000 hotels and housing units were demolished for the Haram expansion project, making it very hard for the visitors and raising the (rental) prices high,” Salem said.
In Madina, real estates sources said that the city may need up to 10,000 housing units to accommodate an increasing number of pilgrims, many of whom fly directly from around the Islamic world to Prince Mohammad International Airport in the holy city.
Madina’s five-star Moevenpick Hotel near Haram has two rental packages that includes the Sohur meal. The first is for the whole month of Ramadan in a three-room suite, costing SR120,000 and offering a view of the Haram, and SR108,000 without the view.
Another five-star hotel near the Prophet’s Mosque is the Madina Ramada where the price is a little cheaper at SR290 per person for a double bedroom.
At the 5-star Al-Haram hotel that does not have a Haram view, Purchasing Manager Atef Mufti said bookings for last 10 days are closed. “Reservations started from Shaban or even before,” he said. “Most of our clients are tourism companies from Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia. The 10-day package prices are SR18,900 for a double bedroom with breakfast, and SR28,350 for two rooms with a salon.”