SHIRAAJ BUZIEK of the Shariah Banking and Finance division of MuslimFin points out the impact of Hajj on economies and offers some advice to Hujjaj on managing their money during the pilgrimage.
AS South African Muslims make their way to the Arabian Peninsula for the Hajj, their engagement with travel and tourism is increasingly prevalent. As a result, there is a greater demand for transportation, accommodation, travel agencies and air travel. Bookings and revenue for South African airlines, tour operators, and travel-related businesses increase during this period.
Part of the preparation for Hajj is making the required purchases for clothing, supplies and religious items. Local stores and suppliers of Islamic items in South Africa experience higher demand during the Hajj season, supporting the local economy and generating income for these businesses. This provides an opportunity for local business owners to succeed and boost the economy.
Dealing with finances during Hajj involves managing your money effectively and ensuring you have access to the local currency whilst performing Hajj. Here are some tips to help you handle foreign currency during your pilgrimage:
- Carry a mix of cash and cards: It’s a good idea to have a combination of cash in local currency and internationally accepted debit or credit cards. Cash can be useful for small transactions, while cards provide convenience and security.
- Exchange currency before your departure: To ensure you have some local currency on hand when you arrive, consider exchanging a portion of your money before your departure. You can visit a local currency exchange provider or your bank to obtain the necessary currency.
- Use ATMs for local currency: Once you arrive at your Hajj destination, you can use ATMs to withdraw local currency. Look for ATMs at reputable banks or those affiliated with your home bank to minimise transaction fees. Be cautious of your surroundings and choose ATMs located in secure areas.
- Notify your bank before traveling: Before you leave for Hajj, inform your bank about your travel plans, including the countries you will be visiting. This helps prevent any unexpected card declines due to suspicious activity flags.
- Consider prepaid travel cards: Prepaid travel cards, loaded with local currency, can be a convenient option for managing your expenses. These cards work like debit cards and can be used for purchases and cash withdrawals. They also offer the benefit of fixed exchange rates.
- Be mindful of currency exchange rates: Keep an eye on currency exchange rates to maximise your money’s value. Rates can fluctuate, so consider exchanging larger amounts when rates are favourable.
- Secure your cash and valuables: While travelling, it is essential to take precautions to protect your cash and valuables. Use a money belt or secure wallet to keep your money and important documents safe. Avoid displaying large sums of cash in public.
- Keep emergency cash reserves: It’s wise to keep a separate stash of emergency cash in a safe place, such as your accommodation. This ensures you have backup funds in case of unexpected circumstances.
It is common for pilgrims to use banking services while on Hajj to manage their finances and perform transactions. It is important to note that some banking services may not be available in all areas of Saudi Arabia, especially in remote or rural locations. Pilgrims are advised to plan and carry sufficient funds for their needs, and to always keep their money and financial information secure.
The Hajj has a financial impact that extends beyond South Africa. When pilgrims depart for Saudi Arabia and spend money, money leaves South Africa. However, the remittances that travellers send home after the Hajj results in an influx of foreign currency into the country. Families are supported by these remittances, neighbourhood economies are maintained and local communities gain from them.
For Muslims in South Africa, the Hajj is a transformative spiritual journey that strengthens their faith and fosters closer ties with Allah. Individual pilgrims’ financial sacrifices are evidence of their unwavering commitment to carrying out this religious duty.
In addition to its spiritual significance, the Hajj is significant for South Africa’s economy. It fosters economic opportunities, promotes travel and tourism, supports local small companies and stimulates the economy through remittances and charitable contributions. Even if South Africa’s Hajj pilgrimage may have had a smaller financial impact than other countries with larger Muslim populations, the pilgrimage’s spiritual and material journey is a testament to the country’s people’s faith and tenacity.
- MuslimFin is a fintech business that is specifically focused on educating and directing Muslims and non-Muslims on Shariah-compliant banking, investments, insurance, estate planning, zakat, and Sadaqah products and services from the South African consumer context. Vist https://muslimfin.com/ for more information.