A whole lot of British Muslims say they might lose 1000’s of kilos paid to a Saudi Arabian firm liable for this 12 months’s Hajj journey.
Farrukh and his household of 5 paid greater than £36,000 by the brand new portal ‘Motawif’ which was launched three weeks in the past.
“When my cash went I believed my job was completed,” stated Farrukh.
“It stated ‘thanks very a lot, we have collected all of your cash however your package deal has failed.’ And it stopped there.”
Ten days later, Farrukh says he’s nonetheless ready for updates. The flight he paid for was on Tuesday.
“I rang the airline and so they informed me I am not on any flight. I wasn’t anticipating to be as a result of I am not even on the visa stage but within the course of.”
Saudi Arabia unveiled the Motawif portal earlier this month, the place travellers from chosen international locations, together with the UK, needed to guide by a lottery system as a way to journey for hajj – the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The brand new portal lower out UK-based tour operators who sometimes organised the journey for round 25,000 British Muslims annually.
Many travellers who had earlier bookings for this 12 months’s hajj needed to prepare refunds earlier than they might guide by the portal.
Teams of travellers have created Whatsapp teams to share experiences. Many say they’ve paid with debit playing cards after being given solely 48 hours to finish preparations, however that regardless of cash leaving their banks their bookings are nonetheless exhibiting as “Failed.”
Motawif have informed Farrukh: “We’ve got been working diligently with the airline to get extra capability and are within the means of arranging your flight.
“Kindly notice we try our greatest to accommodate you on one other flight or present another.
“We advocate you retain your self prepared to your hajj journey and await additional info from us.”
There are issues that pilgrims searching for refunds will lose out on change fee and reserving charges. Some say flights have modified with lower than 24 hours discover, lodge decisions downgraded with out discover, and in some instances individuals have been turned away from the airport.
“Persons are operating round calling their banks, studying small print, and actually, that is by no fault of ours,” stated Farrukh.
“We have paid, we have been by the method, we have completed the whole lot that was requested of us. I’ve even had my PCR completed – in case anyone pulls a flight out of a hat tomorrow, I am able to go.”
Saudi authorities didn’t reply to Sky Information’ requests for remark however beforehand a Motawif agent informed us the system is designed to sort out fraud and make hajj extra accessible.
Sources near the Ministry of Hajj informed Sky Information a taskforce has been arrange inside the division to deal particularly with the “disaster.”
On its web site, Motawif says it’s the first portal within the sector to revolutionise the direct-to-consumer reserving course of. It’s understood to be a pilot scheme for this 12 months’s pilgrimage on a decreased quota of three,500 British travellers.
“I do not really feel like I have been scammed,” stated Farrukh. “I really feel like a lab rat.”
Momina Khatun’s reserving was profitable however her package deal was downgraded with out discover.
Requested if she is totally worry-free about her journey, Momina stated: “Not totally, no. In the back of your head you assume ‘Okay I have never obtained flight confirmations or lodge bookings.’ If there was clear communication I might confidently say sure, I am able to go.”
“My husband and I had a chat final night time and we determined to go together with low expectations,” she informed Sky Information.
“If something good occurs then it is a bonus. We’ll simply sleep within the mosque or you understand, we’re simply planning out worst case situations. That is what it is come to.”
The Council for British Hajjis says 90 per cent of British pilgrims hoping to carry out Hajj this 12 months have been impacted by Motawif.