Passengers had spent thousands booking their Hajj through a new Saudi-backed portal have spoken out after being left stranded in the UK.

Others shared their experiences of arriving at the airport without any e-tickets. Elsewhere, worried worrried female travellers posted stories of being allocated rooms with random men.

Pilgrims had booked their flights paying upwards of £9,000 per person to go on the Hajj via the new Motawif website which was launched earlier this month.

Around 12,000 people were meant to be heading out on the annual pilgrimage which is open to British citizens for the first time since 2019. It is unsure how many have made the trip this week.

Many of these are pilgrims who had booked to make the holy journey to Makkah in Saudi Arabia in 2020 before the Covid pandemic. They had been forced to defer their pilgrimage to 2022.

These bookings had been made with licenced tour operators.

Then, at the beginning of June, a new Saudi website – Motawif - was launched and people were now told to show their ‘interest’ in attending the Hajj. Last weekend applicants waited for a decision of what has been coined a ‘Hajj lottery’.

Successful travellers were meant to ‘drop everything’ and head out with the Hajj taking place in early July.

ALSO SEE: ‘It’s just total chaos’: Travellers pulling out of journeys despite winning ‘Hajj lottery’

One woman from the Yorkshire area told Asian Image herself and six others had to head back home after being unable to board a flight in Manchester.

She said they had transferred a total of £66,500 several days ago to leave from Manchester Airport. 

She said: “So I was on hold to them in the morning and during my journey to the airport. I was on hold for about 1hr 30 mins this morning (Saturday 25 June).

“They picked up while I was en route to the airport and told me falsely that the plane had a technical fault and to turn back and go home as no one would be travelling on that flight to Jeddah.

Once they arrived at the airport they waited before being told the flight was full. 

The frustrated group returned home dejected having made plans to head to the Hajj and carry out their religious obligations by visiting Makkah and Medina.

She added: “We spent around 5 hours at the airport as we arrived early and it took us between 60-90 mins to travel there and back.

“Our PCRs were an out of pocket expense and will no longer be valid if we get a new booking now.”

The group returned to Manchester Airport on Sunday (June 26) and had to return home a second time.

Motawif have been approached for comment.

Another passenger Hassnain posted this image and said they were on their way back home having been unable to board a flight.



Elsewhere desperate passengers also took to social media to ask Motawif where their e-tickets were and how they were to board the flight without them.

Even those who arrived in Saudi Arabia have spoken of being placed in rooms with 'random strangers' and called the situation 'awful'.

Sugra from Yorkshire posted: “Arrived in Chaos continues. Arrived at Pullman Zamzam Madinah. Men being given triple rooms with two random women. Relying on pilgrims to call out names, rather than placing cards A-Z on table for easy self selection.

“I am down as a Mister and sharing a room with a Miss Mohammed someone. Not the bloke I married! After more than 24 hours travel, no breakfast. This is awful.

“It is ridiculous. I have gone to the room and locked the door. Need to administer meds but worried about allocated random man walking in. Many many examples of this. @Motawif_SA apparently just sent a list of names without connections so hotel having to unpick this mess.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had shared a post congratulating the ‘first wave of Hajjis’ from Europe and beyond who had arrived in the kingdom.


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