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Mash'ar Group fails to make payments on time again

Al-Mash’ar Hajj and Umrah Group, which delayed payments for Umrah pilgrims' tickets during last year's Ramadan, resulting in bounced cheques, has repeated the same this Ramadan.

Uzma Naseem
01 April 2024, MVT 15:14
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand mosque in the holy Saudi city of Mecca during the annual hajj pilgrimage, on July 17, 2021. - The annual hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, started with just 60,000 vaccinated Saudi residents allowed to take part this year because of the pandemic. For the second year in a row, Muslims from abroad have been excluded from the hajj, which drew 2.5 million pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in 2019 before the virus struck. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)
Uzma Naseem
01 April 2024, MVT 15:14

Al-Mash’ar Hajj and Umrah Group, which delayed payments of tickets for Umrah pilgrims during Ramadan last year, leading to bounced cheques, has repeated the same this Ramadan.

Those who went to perform Umrah last year during Ramadan under the Mash’ar Group faced similar problems.

Mohamed Firaq, Managing Director of ticketing agent Ace Travels, which sold tickets to the Mash’ar Group, informed ‘Mihaaru’ that despite various discussions with the group, they are yet to receive the money for the return tickets. He mentioned that this concerns tickets for 50 individuals.

Firaq also stated that the group was given several opportunities to pay the money, taking into consideration the interests of individuals who had traveled for Umrah. However, according to him, no progress has been made in this regard.

“Now there is no hope of receiving the money. They are committing fraud," he alleged.

Firaq mentioned that today is the deadline for receiving the payment, and if the money is not received by 18:00 hrs this evening, all tickets will be canceled.

“If there is no other option, we will consider the bounced cheques and press charges of fraud against the group and its officials”, Firaq said.

When contacted by ‘Mihaaru’ for a comment on the issue, Mash’ar Group’s owner, Ali Farish, stated that the agent had allegedly given a deadline for payment until next Friday.

However, Firaq denied this and said they had informed via email that the deadline was today.

“We were given an extension until the 5th of this month”, Farish said.

“Please do not cancel the tickets. Payment will be arranged as soon as possible”.

Mash’ar Group offered an Umrah package for this Ramadan at MVR 38,500 covering a duration of 21 days. This package includes accommodation in Mecca and Medina, return tickets, visas, transportation and three meals per day.

Two cheques that were issued for flight charter and tickets bounced last year, leaving 138 people [who went for Umrah in Ramadan] stranded in Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs also intervened due to the seriousness of the issue.

At the time, pilgrims were able to depart last minute after Mash’ar Group paid half the ticket price, agreeing to pay the rest by a determined date.

This year, the issue escalated again. Minister of Islamic Affairs, Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, urged via a post on X, for those going for Umrah on behalf of private organizations to verify that the organizations are officially licensed to facilitate Umrah journeys.

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