Meeting the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UK yesterday as part of a follow-up meeting to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Hajj and Umrah’s delegation to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain has secured a commitment from the Ambassador to review the UK’s Hajj quotas and reform the current Nusuk booking system.
As Senior Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hajj and Umrah, Imran visited Mecca, Madinah and Riyadh in February this year as part of the delegation’s inquiry into the new Nusuk system and the UK’s Hajj quotas. The delegation met with a number of key officials and Ministers from the Saudi Arabian Government responsible for managing holy pilgrimages to the country, as well as several key stakeholders, where Imran raised the serious challenges faced by British Muslims in Bradford and across the UK and pressed for action.
Following the delegation’s visit and inquiry, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Al-Saud met the APPG to discuss the delegation’s findings and the Saudi Arabian Government’s response to the numerous concerns around Hajj that were raised with them. During this meeting, the Ambassador confirmed that based on the APPG’s findings and other feedback, Saudi Arabia’s Ministries of Hajj and Tourism would be reviewing the UK Hajj quotas and seeking to reform the Nusuk system, whilst also evaluating a new compensation system.
Launched for Hajj in 2023 by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj to replace the previous Motawif system which itself was repeatedly criticised, the online Nusuk system has been beset by a number of issues. These issues have included people being unable to log into the system and receiving repeated error messages, having their bookings cancelled with no explanation, and seen being unable to view which packages were unavailable until the end of the booking process.
Speaking on his meeting with the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UK, Imran said:
“The challenges faced by British Muslims have been a long-standing piece of work for the APPG, and I’m pleased that following our official delegation to Saudi Arabia earlier this year where we lobbied the Ministries of Hajj and Tourism on these issues, the Ambassador has acted on the concerns we raised and agreed to review the UK’s quotas and reform the current booking system.
“For many of my constituents and British Muslims across the UK, the new Nusuk system used by the Saudi Arabian authorities to arrange Hajj has proven to be unworkable and has caused considerable distress for many families who have been unable to book what is a trip of a lifetime, leaving them open to exploitation by unscrupulous actors, and reforming the system has therefore been the primary focus of the APPG.
“I’m also pleased that the Ambassador has agreed to meet formally with the APPG after the conclusion of Hajj in 2023 to debrief us on future plans and for us to raise the findings from our own inquiries, and that he has also agreed to meet us in the months leading up to Hajj in 2024 to ensure that the problems faced this year are not repeated.”