Local Hajj companies said they prefer to set up tents in Mina for their pilgrims than rent buildings at high rates, Makkah daily reported.
They said they have incurred huge losses last year due to the high rental costs, the decrease in the number of pilgrims in each building and a ban preventing Gulf citizens from staying in such accommodation.
In addition, many Saudis refuse to reside in buildings due to a religious edict that prohibits them from living in buildings in Mina, they said.
The owner of a domestic pilgrims company, Sultan Al-Qurashi, said he has incurred huge losses last year and expects further losses this year due to these circumstances.
He said: “Two years ago, I did not incur any losses because Gulf citizens were allowed to reside in these buildings.
“Last year I lost round SR3 million and I was forced to pay the high rent, otherwise the Ministry of Hajj would cancel my license.”
Al-Qurashi pointed out that he has prepared a study detailing his losses and will present it to the ministry.
Investor Saad Allehayyani said the ministry has reduced the number of pilgrims allowed to reside in a building from 2,900 to 2,436.
“The ministry has also increased the area allotted for each pilgrim from 1.6 square meters to 2.5 square meters,” he said.
He called for reducing the rental costs from SR70,000 a room to SR35,000 to reduce costs.
Deputy Minister for Hajj Affairs Dr. Husain Al-Shareef said the ministry also asked for a reduction in rental costs but the decision lies in the hands of the Mina Real Estate Company, which owns the buildings.
He said: “Allowing Gulf citizens to reside in these buildings is not the responsibility of the ministry either.
“The ministry received instructions that these buildings should be only for local Saudi pilgrims.”
He pointed out that setting the number of pilgrims in buildings is done according to certain rules and regulations and any changes to such quotas has to be coordinated with various bodies and the Supreme Hajj Committee.
This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.