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National Hajj Company is legal, liable and protects pilgrims — Arabiyat

By Ahmed Bani Mustafa - Feb 04,2018 - Last updated at Feb 05,2018

AMMAN — The National Hajj Company is totally legal and accountable, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat said on Sunday.

"Anybody who has an objection can resort to the judiciary," he added. 

Jordanian travel agencies have been protesting against the establishment of a travel company by the Hajj Fund affiliated with the Awqaf Ministry.

The travel agencies staged a sit-in near the Hajj Fund on Sunday demanding the cancellation of the company, which they described as "illegal", according to Al Rai Arabic daily.

Regarding the reasons behind the protest, the Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA) said that private travel agencies, which employ “hundreds” of Jordanians, will not be able to compete with a government-owned company that has a much larger capital collected by the fund from pilgrims.

As the company is owned by the ministry, which is an executive and monitoring authority, there will be no avenue for clients to complain about services, JSTA President Mohammad Samih, told The Jordan Times recently.

The company is an independent entity, financially and administratively, Arabyiat told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

"If any pilgrim files a complaint against the company, it will be held accountable and dealt with as other companies," he stressed. 

The protesters have already submitted a complaint to the Competition Department at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply. 

"The department responded to them by disapproving the claim, saying that establishing the company does not breach the Competition Law," said Arabiyat.

The company will create "balance" in the market in terms of prices and service quality, stressed the minister, adding that it will even "help" other companies in bookings and ensuring that their clients receive the services in Saudi Arabia according to the service.

"We have witnessed 'collusion' of some companies to collectively raise the prices of Hajj trips, which reached JD2,600, and they are refusing to lower them," said Arabiyat, adding that "protecting Jordanians from such hikes and monopolies necessitates the establishment of national company to maintain balance in the market".

"They change or raise the prices without even providing clear mechanism," he added.

During a protest held last month in front of Parliament, protesters listed a number of demands, including the cancellation of the company, having the association as the only organiser of Hajj and umrah trips in cooperation with the Awqaf and the Tourism ministries, forming a committee from the association and the relevant ministries to monitor trips' prices.

 

The demands also included urging the Awqaf Ministry to contact the Saudi Arabian authorities to exempt Jordanians from the 2,000-riyal umrah fees.
The association also demanded the cancellation of the pre-payment for Hajj registration worth JD200.
JSTA demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Hani Mulki to explain the sector's challenges, JSTA Secretary Kamal Abu Diab told The Jordan Times at the time.

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