Pay in greenbacks, top religious body tells Turkish Hajj pilgrims
ANKARATurkey’s Directorate General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has started to charge accommodation prices in the U.S. dollar to Turks performing the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, rather than the euro, amid the severe loss of the Turkish Lira against the former.
The average accommodation price per person has increased to $3,600 this year, from around 2,700 euros ($2,900) in 2014. Pilgrims will therefore pay a total of around 9,360 liras this year, 1,660 liras more than last year, amid the dramatic rise of U.S. dollar against all currencies.
Pilgrims will need to pay $5,000 for separate rooms in the Diyanet-run facility, according to the new pricing list, while hotel rooms in Mecca have prices ranging from between $6,900 and $9,900.
The Diyanet told Anadolu Agency that the transition to a price plan based on the U.S. dollar is not new, and the decision was made in November 2014 by the Inter-Ministerial Haj and Umrah Board.
“The board changed the currency used to charge all hajj and umrah services into the U.S. dollar in November 2014,” the Diyanet said in a written statement on March 11.
The board took the decision based on the fact that Saudi Arabia gives all pricing and renting services in the U.S. dollar, it added.
“The Diyanet offers all services without any commercial expectation,” read the statement, adding that some 55,000 Muslims are expected to go to Mecca on pilgrimage this year from Turkey.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which all able Muslims are expected to perform once in their life if they have the means to do so.
The lira has fallen to around 12 percent against the dollar this year, and has recently been the worst-performing emerging market currency against the greenback.