Cairo: Saudi Arabia has launched an investment endowment fund for groups offering services to Muslim pilgrims in the country with a view to ensuring financial sustainability for the non-government associations.
The fund was launched on Wednesday by Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al Rabiah and Governor of the General Authority for Awqaf Emad Alkharashi, joined by other officials and board heads of the non-government associations in Riyadh.
The Awqaf Authority has contributed SR100 million to the fund, which also aims to enhance the role of these groups in serving pilgrims, diversify sources of their income in the non-profit sector and encourage new endowment providers.
The fund will contribute to sponsoring and financing initiatives and projects suggested by these groups as well as coordinating and getting integrated into other competent agencies.
Under the kingdom’s ambitious development plan, officially known as Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to attract up to 30 million Umrah pilgrims and visitors annually by the year 2030.
Millions of Muslims from around the world flock to Saudi Arabia around the year to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage and Hajj.
Hajj, one of Islam’s five obligatory duties, is due in late June this year. Saudi Arabia has said that there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the coming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the pandemic.
In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform the Hajj rites to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times.