After a long lull, Makkah souvenir shops post recovery with estimated SR15mn businesses

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

MAKKAH — After a lull lasting over 200 days, the commercial activities of souvenir and gift shops in the holy city of Makkah around the Grand Mosque are slowly regaining their momentum following the gradual resumption of Umrah pilgrimage and visits to the Two Holy Mosques. It is expected that the current Umrah season would generate shopping revenues amounting to a total of SR15 million, which is very low as compared to the businesses of the previous years before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Muhammad Al-Qurashi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah, said that the revenues of souvenir shops are expected to reach SR15 million during the current Umrah season as most of the foreign pilgrims want to buy gifts and souvenirs while returning from the holy city.

Umrah pilgrims from various parts of the world wish to buy some souvenirs and gifts mainly as a token of remembrance to their journey to Islam’s holy capital as well as to present them to their kith and kin and dear and near ones. These items include mainly rosaries, prayer rugs, perfumes, toys, watches, models of the Holy Kaaba and the Two Holy Mosques, and garments, according to a report in All the activities of these souvenir shops came to a halt following the temporary suspension of the Umrah service from the beginning of March after the outbreak of the pandemic.

Ahmed Halbi, a specialist in Hajj and Umrah services, said that the economic activities in Makkah were at a very slow pace during the first phase of the gradual resumption of Umrah service on Oct. 4-18. He noted that domestic pilgrims did not have enough time to roam about the streets and engage in shopping activities within a short period of time allotted for them to stay on in the city to perform the rituals of Umrah.

“However, with the start of the second phase on Oct. 18 during which the number of permitted Umrah pilgrims and worshipers at Grand Mosque reached 15,000 and 40,000 respectively, the shopping activities recorded a slow recovery,” he said while emphasizing that the signs of a real boom in the businesses of souvenir shops manifested with the beginning of the third phase on Nov. 1 during which foreign pilgrims were allowed to perform Umrah and visit the Two Holy Mosques for the first time after a gap of eight months.

Halbi said that the souvenir shops, restaurants, and food stores in the Central Haram Area witnessed a revival of activities with the arrival of foreign pilgrims. “All the commercial shops are pinning great hope on the fourth and final phase of the gradual resumption of Umrah service and visit to the Two Holy Mosques during which the holy city is expected to witness unrestricted inflow of pilgrims from various parts of the world,” he added.