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Pilgrims complain of ZamZam shortage

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Pilgrims and visitors are becoming hard-pressed to find bottled Zamzam water with the influx of worshippers flocking to the Grand Mosque during Ramadan and the lack of availability at points of sale. While Zamzam water, which comes from the Zamzam well at Makkah, is available in abundance in the coolers inside the mosque, pilgrims are unable to find bottled Zamzam water because the only sale point is located in a district that is not frequented by foreign pilgrims.

“I can’t find any bottles to take back to my hotel room,” said Mohammed Abid, an Indian pilgrim who has come to perform the Umrah pilgrimage.

“I also find it too embarrassing to fill an empty bottle with water from the cooler since so many people are waiting in the queue to drink behind me.”

“I want to take Zamzam bottles back home with me, but I can’t find any to purchase,” said Swad Al-Bastawesi, an elderly Egyptian pilgrim.

Other pilgrims echoed similar views about the nonavailability of Zamzam water.

“Around 1,200 cubic meters of Zamzam are consumed every single day inside the Grand Mosque and 486 cubic meters in the surrounding courtyards,” said Ahmed Al-Matrafi, director of the Zamzam Water Department at the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs.

“This translates into around 3 million cups of water daily.”
“In addition, around 300 cubic meters are supplied to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.”

Supplies are only available in abundance at the Zamzam filling station, located in a faraway area known only to local residents. The filling station, operated by the National Water Company (NWC), is part of a King Abdullah project launched for this purpose. The area is not even known to residents from Jeddah and other parts of the Kingdom.

“I was approached by several brokers offering to buy the Zamzam filling coupons I had gotten my hands on for double the price, much to my surprise,” said Mohammed Saleem, a Pakistani expatriate who works in Makkah.

The NWC sells coupons for SR5 for a 10-liter jar. A Saudi national is entitled to 20 jars, while expats are entitled to acquiring 10 jars a month. The quota, however, is reduced during the peak seasons of Ramadan and Haj.

Saleh M. Sulaimi, a Saudi national, warned that a black market for Zamam water is emerging in the absence of points of sale around the Grand Mosque and in parking and public places.

Inspection squads from the Makkah Municipality and Commerce Ministry recently seized thousands of fake Zamzam water bottles. Pilgrims can also purchase Zamzam water at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and the airport in Madinah, even though other nearby outlets are limited to selling a five-liter bottle per person.

“I managed to purchase a 10-liter quantity for SR35 at the airport in Jeddah,” said Mohammed Irshad Ali Parvez, an Indian expatriate. ARAB NEWS

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