18/01/2021

Mecca’s migrants face economic uncertainty as religious tourism continues to be suspended | Migrant-Rights.org

Covid-19

Mecca’s migrants face economic
uncertainty as religious tourism
continues to be suspended
By Rabiya Ja ery

On June 22, 2020

Tarek A. has been driving Muslim pilgrims to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the past
three decades.
The Pakistani migrant moved to Saudi Arabia in the early 1990s, when he was in his 20s, and took up a
job as a private taxi driver in Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site. He has been supporting his four
younger siblings and his own family, who still live in their village in rural Punjab.
“I came here on an Umrah visa and stayed back,” he says. “Things were di erent back then and a lot of
people were doing this. There were a lot of jobs available and the rules were laxer, so just a er a year of
doing odd jobs I managed to nd someone to sponsor me and have been working as a driver since.”
Even though the majority of Saudi Arabia’s wealth comes from oil, pilgrims visiting Mecca and Medina
are also critical to the Kingdom’s economy.
https://www.migrant-rights.org/2020/06/meccas-migrants-face-economic-uncertainty-as-religious-tourism-continues-to-be-suspended/

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