The government and the House of Representatives (DPR) have agreed to set the 2023 hajj pilgrimage fee at IDR 49.8 million (US$ 3,281.13) per individual, far from the 2022’s cost of IDR 39.89 million. Ironically, the decision was taken after the Saudi Arabia government announced that it would lower the hajj cost by 30%.
“The working committee of the House’s Commission VIII [overseeing religion and social affairs, women empowerment and child protection] and the government have agreed that the total budget for the hajj pilgrimage travel fees (BPIH) is IDR 90 million,” Commission VIII deputy speaker Marwan Dasopang said as quoted by tempo.co on February 15, 2023.
Undersecretary of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj and Umrah Services Amr bin Reda Al Maddah said on January 15, 2023, that “this year’s hajj packages are 30% cheaper than it was before last year”, gulfnews.com reported.
From the IDR 90 million, each pilgrim must pay IDR 49.8 million to cover the flight fees, living expenses and a portion of the service package fee. The remaining IDR 40.2 million is covered by the average financial benefit value (NA), which includes expenses incurred for organizing the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and for organizing it within the country.
There were 84,609 pilgrims, who were scheduled to travel in 2020 but their plan had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These pilgrims will be exempted from paying additional fees when they depart for the pilgrimage on May 24, 2023. Meanwhile, 9,864 individuals who are scheduled to depart in 2023 will have to pay an additional fee of IDR 9.4 million.
Country with most pilgrimage quota
In 2023, Saudi Arabia has allocated a hajj quota of 221,000 for Indonesia – the biggest quota granted to any country globally. The quote comprises of 203,320 regular pilgrims and 17,680 special pilgrims. Indonesia will also dispatch 4,200 hajj officers whereas the pilgrimage preparation has begun since early 2023.
According to data from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the cost of performing hajj has been on a steady rise over the past decade.
|Year||BPIH Total (in IDR million)||Costs borne by the pilgrims (in IDR million)|
The rise in cost can be attributed to various factors such as inflation, the increasing demand for hajj and the rising expenses of hajj management. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the costs due to the implementation of health protocols and the need for additional measures to ensure the safety of pilgrims.
According to data from BPS, the number of Indonesian pilgrims had been on a consistent rise until the outbreak of the pandemic.
The largest increase occurred in 2017, following an increase in the number of departure quotas. As a result, the cost of hajj in Indonesia has remained a persistent concern.
Saudi Arabia has also lifted all restrictions imposed on the hajj pilgrimage after the pandemic forced a downsizing of the annual event for three years. The minister in charge of the Hajj, Tawfiq Al Rabiah, said the numbers of pilgrims would return to pre-pandemic figures with restrictions, including age limits, being lifted, according to Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia’s profits
The Saudi Arabia Hajj and Umrah tourism market is expected to reach a revenue of US$ 150 billion in 2022 and is likely to pass US$ 350 billion by 2032, according to Future Market Insights (FMI) as reported by alestiklal.net. FMI also reported that thereligious tourism market in Saudi Arabia will achieve a growth rate of 7% annually for the next 10 years. Its revenues will amount to US$ 150 billion in 2023 .
As of 2017, the total revenue for Saudi Arabia from hajj pilgrims from Indonesia was US$ 940.8 million, according to statisca.com.
Prior to the pandemic, around 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world usually gathered every year for the largest Islam congregation of the hajj in the holy city of Mecca. It is estimated that Saudi Arabia receives around 21 million pilgrims every year. By 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to increase the number of pilgrims to 30 million.
According to the Hajj Fund Management Agency (BPKH), the daily management of hajj funds amounted to IDR 169 trillion in 2022 and this is projected to rise every year. BPKH said the funds “were saved safely”.
“We have invested the money in sharia financial instruments which are safe and prudent. The DPR’s Commission VIII and the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) always monitor our [financial] condition,” said BPKH executive Harry Alexander in Pariaman, West Sumatra, as quoted by Antara state news agency on December 11, 2022.
However, there are controversies surrounding the hajj management and hajj fund in Indonesia, namely:
- Hajj quota
The allocation of hajj quotas for Indonesia has been a contentious issue. Every year, Indonesia negotiates with Saudi Arabia to secure a larger quota due to the increasing demand. However, there were cases when Saudi Arabia reduced the quota due to various reasons, leading to disappointment among the pilgrims.
Corruption among hajj travel agents has become a persistent problem in Indonesia. There have been cases where travel agents embezzled funds meant for pilgrims, leading to delays or cancellations of their trip. In some instances, the travel agents have sold fake pilgrimage packages to unsuspecting individuals, causing them to lose their money.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairman Firli Bahuri said the antigraft body has found 3 points prone to corruption in hajj organizing funds, namely accommodation, meals and supervision.
- Health and safety concerns
The health and safety of Indonesian pilgrims, who mostly are elderlies, have become a major concern. From 1990 to 2015, stampedes in Mina tunnel during the jumrah throwing ritual have killed around 3,600 pilgrims.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also posed a challenge to the pilgrimage, leading to restrictions and cancellations in some cases.
- Gender segregation
There has been controversy surrounding the segregation of male and female pilgrims during the hajj pilgrimage. In some instances, female pilgrims have complained about the poor quality of their accommodation or the distance from the holy site, which has led to gender discrimination.
- Long departure schedule
The departure schedule for Indonesian hajj pilgrims has been a concern for many years. Due to the large number of pilgrims and limited transportation options, some pilgrims have had to wait for several days or even weeks before departing for Saudi Arabia. This has caused inconvenience and frustration for many pilgrims and their families.
6. Rumors of hajj funds for infrastructure
The National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker Saleh Partaonan Daulay highlighted the spread of a rumor in social media that the hajj fund was allocated for infrastructure project. The BPKH and the Ministry of Religious Affairs should immediately clarify the issue, he said as quoted by cnnindonesia.com on January 23, 2023.