How no pilgrimage to Mecca this year is affecting people and businesses in the Midlands

Scenes like these in 2017 won't be seen this year at Mecca. Credit: PA Images

Imran Patel from Leicester has spoken about his disappointment in not being able to take part in the holy pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia this year.

The annual pilgrimage, known as Hajj, is taking place from Tuesday, July 28 - Sunday, August 2 this year with more than two million Muslims usually making the journey.

But with coronavirus gripping the globe, just 1,000 pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia will be able to attend.

From what I've heard from people who have experienced it in the past, it's a surreal experience, something that's completely different, you can never experience it unless you were there yourself.

Imran Patel

It's a blow for Imran, who has suffered major health scares in the past and says he might not be able to make the journey in future years.

Whether I'm fit enough next year to perform it, I don't know. This year I felt that I had made all the preparations, I was in the right frame of mind, physically I felt fit enough to perform it so yeah it is a major setback.

Imran Patel

The scaling back of Hajj has also had a huge impact on the businesses that arrange travel to Mecca.

Tour operator, Hijaz Travel, in Birmingham was doing well until February but since then has seen its takings drop to zero.

No business, nothing. Even on top of that we have to refund whatever business we did from last year till last quarter of 2019 and first quarter of 2020. We have to refund all money to the customer.

Tofayel Ahmed Chowdhury - Managing Director, Hijaz Travel

Watch Pablo Taylor's full report, below.

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