The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah this year, has authorized and accredited the handling of Hajj Applications of applicants from the Americas, Europe, and Australia exclusively to an external company called Motawif.
According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in its official statement, the online platform was meant “to meet the aspirations of honorable pilgrims from these countries and ensure quick and easy procedures”.
However, since the launch of the platform over two weeks ago, several applicants shared their grievances regarding the platform on social networking websites.
Inside the Haramain reached out to several applicants who shared their experience using the Motawif Platform
‘Lack of Clarity in the Draw Process’
Mr. Hussain Ahmed from the UK, one of the applicants who applied for Hajj through The Motawif Platform said: “Initially we were told the draw will be held, then we were informed that applications are being reviewed first. Although draw has been concluded, applications are still pending.”
Mrs. Ayesha Ejaz from the US similarly said : ‘No clear announcement was made regarding the draw nor the platform has any feature to inform us if we are selected or not, rather users found them confused with the whole ‘approved, pending and amendment’ updates. Motawif informed us via Twitter that if it is showed Approved then you are selected it shows pending it means you are yet to be reviewed. This announcement spread further confusion if an actual draw ever took place or not’
‘Paid but Failed’
Many Applicants after being ‘selected’ or ‘approved’ in the draw were left further stressed after receiving an automated message from Motawif “Your Booking has Failed” despite paying in full.
Mr. Patel, an affected applicant, began an online trend #paidbutfailed on social media which soon began trending with several applicants sharing the same issue of their booking not being confirmed despite paying for their packages in full.
Motawif at first shared with the users that this was a technical issue and users will be assigned packages for which they had paid however the Platform began changing its statements and told several applicants that “Packages are not available”, “Hotels are not Available”, “Flights are not available”.
Applicants who have paid thousands of dollars remain in limbo regarding their fate.
‘Returned from the Airport’
The misery of Applicants continued when those who were successful in securing their packages were left stranded with no communication from Motawif regarding their Ticket Information for travel. Several Hujjaj took it upon themselves to contact the airline to obtain confirmation of their flight details while others who reached the airport (as per their package information), were turned away.
Naheeda Kauser from the UK described her experience on Twitter and said: “We were turned away at Manchester airport today we had our booking confirmed on the portal but no flights were booked, no email to tell us that this itinerary booking is not confirmed.” Others described including The Council of British Hajjis that “28 Hujjaj had their names on the manifest but the flights were not paid for”. This inconvenience occurred despite Hujjaj completing their payment obligations. Many Hujjaj continue to remain stressed and unaware of their flight details as they await formal communication from Motawif.
‘Placed into Rooms with Non-Mahrams’
The confusion and stress of the Hujjaj continued to mount as those who overcame the initial obstacles found themselves into unusual problems after they arrived in the Kingdom. Hujjaj mostly described their welcome as smooth and welcoming as Motawif officials and Hajj Ministry officials received them upon their arrival in the Kingdom.
However, upon their arrival at their hotels, some Hujjaj were placed into rooms randomly with non-mahrams in triple or quad-sharing rooms despite Hujjaj having booked double-sharing rooms with their mahrams.
A pilgrim who arrived from the UK and wished to remain anonymous shared her ordeal upon arrival at the Hotel: “It was complete chaos, the Hotel staff didn’t know what to do nor did we, It was like Motawif randomly allotted rooms to people without determining their package types and traveling companions. People who paid premium were put into rooms meant for lower packages. No one from Motawif was present to guide us or the hotel staff, we were left on our own. “
The Pilgrim further said: “We are now scared of what the service will be like when we move towards Mina, Arafat in the coming days.”
‘Stress, Chaos and disappointment’
Amid all the chaos and confusion the Platform has caused, applicants shared their opinion regarding the launch of the platform at such short notice.
Mr. Mohammad Hussain, an applicant on the Motawif Platform whose application remains in limbo, said: “Blinding trusting a company with no evidence of being capable of running such a vast and critical process is not acceptable”, also appealing the Hajj Ministry to intervene he further said: “The ministry gave the go ahead for the portal so close to Hajj season. They have all the power. They made this happen. They can change it. If they do the Hujjaj will remember and praise them for their wisdom and empathy”. Another applicant from the UK, Lhipon Miah shared similar sentiments and said: “They’ve ruined hajj 2022 for aspiring pilgrims in Europe, the US, and more. They need to be held accountable and we need the ministry to be altered to this issue immediately.”
Miss Zeynah, also an applicant on the Motawif Platform from the US said: “the whole saga has been an entire disappointment, It only added more stress to something that should be special spiritual wise”.
‘Silence from Motawif’
Despite reaching out to Motawif several times over the past week, Inside the Haramain is yet to receive a response from the company over the growing number of allegations and complaints from applicants. Motawif has also not released any official statement regarding the issues and complaints however in several responses to complaints privately the company blamed the Hajj Ministry for the lack of packages and other issues.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has also made no official statement on the growing number of complaints but in a response to a question last week, a well-informed source at the Ministry regarding the drawing process told Inside the Haramain: “The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is not actively involved in the Motawif Platform process at the moment” and regarding complaints, the source said: “The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah takes the comfort of its guests very seriously and any complaints regarding the process should be directed to the Ministry.”
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article may/may not reflect the opinion of the Publication.