“To meet the aspirations of honorable pilgrims from these countries and ensure quick and easy procedures,” the ministry of Hajj and Umrah have authorized the handling of hajj Applications from the applicants of America, Europe and Australia, to an external company called Motawif, which is an online platform. Since the launch of this platform over two week ago, many applicants have shared their disappointment and experience on social media.
“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,” said Mr Hussain Ahmed one of the applicant from UK, who shared his experience of applying through this online platform.
Another applicant Mrs Ayesha from US shared a similar experience, “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’.”
Many other applicants were left more stressed and worried as they were ‘selected’ or ‘approved’ but received an automated message from Motawif saying “ Your booking has failed” despite full payment by the applicants. An affected applicant r Patel, started this trend on social media #paidbutfailed which soon began trending wuth several other applicants sharing the same experience of booking not confirmed but paying full for their packages.
Motawif at first shared with users that it is a technical issue and soon all of them will be assigned the packages thy have paid for, however th platform changed the statements and later on told several applicants that “Packages are not available”, “Hotels are not Available”, “Flights are not available”.
The misery of distressed continued when the applicants who had secured their packages were left stared without any further communication from Motwif 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.
“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”. Naheeda Kauser from the UK described her experience on Twitter. This botheration occurred regardless of Hujjaj finishing their installment commitments. Numerous Hujjaj are still stressed and uninformed about their flight details as they anticipate formal correspondence from Motawif.
Those who overcame initial obstacles found themselves getting stressed at hotels by their placement with non-mehrams in triple or quad-sharing rooms. “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,” shared a pilgrim who wished to remain anonymous.
An applicant, Mr Mohammad Hussain has blamed ministry for being irresponsible to have blind faith on a company with no evidence to run such vast and critical process. 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.
Despite so much chaos Motawif has not released any official statement and places the blame on ministry for all that happened while ministry has stated, “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.”