A number of Maldivians who travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage have raised serious concerns regarding the accommodation conditions in Mina, Saudi Arabia. This has cast a shadow over the Hajj pilgrimage arrangements made by the state-owned Maldives Hajj Corporation.

The grievances, which quickly spread to social media platforms, revolved primarily around the cramped conditions pilgrims endured in Mina. Some pilgrims have vowed to bring their concerns to the attention of relevant government agencies, seeking redress for what they describe as subpar arrangements.

Eyewitness accounts and video footage shared online painted a vivid picture of the discomfort faced by the pilgrims, with reports of over 500 individuals being squeezed into tents intended for 300.

Mohamed Nizam, a pilgrim who took to social media to voice his dissatisfaction, lamented the “zero service” provided, indicating that the situation was so dire that some were forced to seek refuge in nearby mosques due to the lack of space.

In response to the controversy, Islamic Affairs Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed conceded that the arrangements left much to be desired, acknowledging the need for improvement. However, he stopped short of confirming the specific complaints about overcrowding.

Addressing the backlash, Mohamed Shakeel, managing director of the Hajj Corporation, told the state broadcaster that steps are being taken to improve the arrangements in the future. Shakeel admitted to the issue of inadequate space and pledged to consult with pilgrims on potential improvements.

“The Hajj Corporation always focuses on its services to pilgrims. In the future, we will work to make improvements,” Shakeel stated, highlighting the logistical challenges involved in organising travel and accommodation for 1,149 pilgrims.