Leicester couple ‘delighted’ after £20k Hajj trip refunded

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By Will Jefford & Khush SamejaBBC News, Leicester

9 February 2024

Image caption,

Mohamed and Rahma Omar have been trying to get a refund for six months

A couple who feared they may have lost their life savings after a “once-in-a-lifetime” Hajj pilgrimage fell through, have been refunded nearly £20,000.

Mohamed and Rahma Omar said flight tickets that were part of a package trip to Mecca never arrived.

They booked the trip to fly in June, through the Saudi Arabian government-owned Nusuk Hajj website.

The couple finally received a refund on Thursday, six months after their first complaint.

Mr and Mrs Omar, from Braunstone, Leicester, said they hoped to receive their money back so they could travel in order to undertake their religious obligations in the future.

Image caption,

Nagib Omar said his parents are relieved to get their money back

Despite not receiving all of the £20,150 they paid for the trip, the couple are “delighted” to receive the £19,700 refund, their son Nagib Omar said.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since they told me,” he said.

“It’s relief really. It’s been dragging on for so long.

“It’s a thank you for getting the money back, but also it shouldn’t take a BBC article for it to have happened.”

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The Omars hope to join millions of other Muslim pilgrims on Hajj in the future

Nagib Omar said his parents are planning to use the money to try to take the trip in the future.

Hajj is a religious requirement for all Muslims who can afford it.

It is one of the five pillars of Islam along with five daily prayers, fasting, charity and a belief in God (Allah) and in Muhammad as a prophet.

About 25,000 people from the UK went on the pilgrimage before 2022, when the Saudi government changed the rules to allow only about 3,600 people, who had to book packages directly with a Saudi travel company.

The Nusuk Hajj website was established by the Saudi government for pilgrims to get accommodation, food, and guided tours as well as arrange travel and visas.

It has been contacted for comment.

The Saudi embassy in the UK has also not responded to BBC requests for comment.

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