Niche Market Grows for Muslim-Americans Traveling on Hajj

January 3, 2006

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: RNS

On January 3, 2006 Religion News Service reported, "Whatever you bring to Mecca, bring patience. That's what travel agents, Islamic scholars and veterans of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city, tell Muslims preparing for the journey. When 1.5 million people from abroad descend on Saudi Arabia for this annual rite, the possibilities of what can go wrong -- lost visas, cancelled flights, overbooked hotels -- are endless... Abdo Ibrahim, the CEO of Boston-based Adam Travel, took 22 pilgrims when his company first started offering Hajj tours in the early 1990s. This year, Ibrahim, 57, estimates he has about 1,000 pilgrims. Tours are priced between $3,100 to $6,300, and account for about 5 percent of Adam Travel's annual sales. 'It may be 5 percent of the profit, but it's 25 percent of the headache,' he says. 'There are too many unknowns'... Overcrowding and flight cancellations are part of the Hajj experience, said Saidi Gaddoor, West Coast manager for Dar El-Eiman California travel agency. 'Customers, especially from America, have high expectations,' Gaddor said. 'Customers come to me and say "can you promise me a trouble-free Hajj?" And I say no, I would be lying. But that's part of Hajj -- sacrifice, patience.'"