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Exorbitant rents leave many unable to spend Ramadan in Grand Mosque

A pilgrim views the Grand Mosque in Makkah from the balcony of a hotel. Pilgrims are complaining of the astronomical hotel rates

Source : Arab News
MAKKAH | 08 Aug 2011

“High rents have wrecked my plans to spend Ramadan in a spiritual atmosphere in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque,” declared Muhammad Husain, a domestic pilgrim.

There are not many vacant hotel rooms in Makkah since the beginning of Ramadan this year, despite the astronomically high rent rates for hotel rooms. Middle-class families cannot afford to stay in hotels close to the Grand Mosque because of high rents that can reach up to SR7,000 per day. Pilgrims, if not immensely rich, complete their Umrah as quickly as possible and leave for Taif or Jeddah, where the rents are affordable, Al-Riyadh daily reported on Saturday. Many have demanded that the government take steps to rein in greedy hotel owners.

The rents of hotel rooms in Ramadan have more than doubled with the average room rent per night in a star hotel reaching SR4,000 in the first week of Ramadan and this is expected to increase as the holy month advances. However, 90 percent of the hotel rooms have been booked for the last part of the month.

A hotel suite is rented for SR10,000 per day in the first 10 days of the month. The rent varies, depending on the category and the closeness of the hotel to the Grand Mosque, the report added.

The exorbitant rates in Makkah are attributed to market forces, such as the low supply of rooms, which applies pressure on rents. More than 3,000 properties, mostly hotels and apartments for pilgrim accommodation, were demolished while clearing the ground for the expansion of the northern courtyard of the Grand Mosque. “Although there are more than 700 hotels in locations not very far from the central zone, a major reason the rents skyrocketed is that school vacations and Ramadan began at the same time this year. It is quite natural that many Saudi families wish to spend their vacations in one of the two holy cities. This contributed to price increases,” said hotelier Saeed Al-Saleh.

However, he hoped that the completion of the ongoing residential projects such as the Jabal Omar, Abdul Lathif Jameel and Shamiah Development will provide more hotel rooms and bring down the rates in the coming years.

 

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