Muslims pray at the Grand mosque - REUTERS - Suhaib Salem
CAIRO – 25 February 2018: “There is no truth in the rumors that have spread recently about a fee of LE 1,000 ($266) being collected from each pilgrim in favor of the Tahya Misr Fund,” the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Tayyar Egypt Group of Companies and member of the Supreme Committee for Hajj and Umrah, Ashraf Shiha, said on Sunday.
Shiha stressed that the Umrah regulations adopted by Rania Al-Mashat, minister of tourism, recently do not include these fees at all. They have not been discussed in this case in any meetings of a public or closed committee.
The fake report spread by social media
He also added that everyone knows that the Tahya Misr Fund only accepts donations from those who are able to give them of their own free will, and that the Committee could not use the Umrah or Hajj season to collect such fees for the benefit of the Fund.
Shiha said that the acceptance of applications began on Sunday for the first Umrah flights that will commence from March 1 to the middle of Shawwal, adding that the priority is given to those who have not been to Umrah during the past three years.
However, the minister of tourism explained during a television interview on Saturday that the aim of the new regulations for Umrah is to reduce the size of the currency coming out of Egypt.
The regulations stipulated that the sum of 2,000 Saudi riyals ($533) must be collected from those who have already performed Umrah last year or previous years up to a maximum of three years, plus 50 percent of the amount (equivalent to 1,000 Saudi riyals) ( $266 dollars) for the pilgrim who performs Umrah more than once per season. The citizen must pay the amount through a personal account at the Central Bank of Egypt.
The regulation excludes the families of martyrs and the families of injured officers and members of the armed forces, civilian police and citizens who have been injured in terrorist operations in coordination with the concerned authorities, in addition to relatives and children less than 12 years of age and owners of tourist companies and supervisors registered with the ministry.
Tahya Misr Fund "Long Live Egypt" was created upon an initiative by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in 2014 which aims to support Egypt's economy and development.
The hajj, a five-day ritual which retraces the journey the Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago, is a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
It is the world's largest annual Muslim gathering, with over 2.3 million people attending this year. The faithful come from nearly every country in the world, speaking dozens of languages and sometimes practising Islam in different ways based on local customs or traditions.