Taliban raises Hajj fee by $50 for Shiite pilgrims

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban’s minister of Hajj and religious affairs, Noor Mohammad Saqib, announced Tuesday that the cost for Shiite pilgrims undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage this year would be $50 higher than for other pilgrims.

During a press conference in Kabul, Saqib revealed the increased fee brings the total cost for Shiite pilgrims to $3,915, compared to $3,865 for others. He did not provide a reason for the increase in pricing.

Saqib also stated that Afghanistan’s quota for the Hajj pilgrimage for the year 1403 Hijri is set at 30,000 participants. He asserted that the distribution of this quota across the country has been conducted in a “transparent and fair” manner.

The ministry further announced that portions of the quota are reserved for government employees, families of martyrs, disabled individuals, and immigrants, despite previous allocations favoring cabinet members, governors, commanders, and other high-ranking Taliban officials.

Saqib mentioned that agreements have been made with private airlines, including Ariana, Afghan Emirates, and Com Air, to transport pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, a Taliban delegation has been dispatched to Saudi Arabia to oversee Afghanistan’s Hajj arrangements, maintaining the quota of 30,000 pilgrims set last year.