Malaysian government-owned Tabung Haji, which is responsible for finding accommodation for Malaysian religious tourists in Mecca, is planning to buy or lease new hotel space in the city.

The hajj period begins around 12 November this year and with extensive development ongoing around the Holy Mosque, Malaysia has been left with little to offer its 26,000 hajj visa holders.

The city of Mecca has undertaken large-scale demolition around the Holy Mosque and much of what has been cleared usually accommodates Malaysian pilgrims, says Malaysian minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

Tabung Haji announced plans in 2008 to build a 30-storey hotel in the holy city, but the project has stalled as the organisation awaits government approval.

The estimated $267m hotel is planned for a site 200 metres from the Holy Mosque and will be able to accommodate 18,000 people during the hajj season. But the project will not be ready for two years after final approval is granted.

The seven-tower Abraaj al-Bayt complex in Mecca is scheduled for completion later this year. Built adjacent to the Holy Mosque, Abraaj al-Bayt will offer 4,100 additional hotel rooms to Saudi Arabia’s 1.6 miilion annual Hajj pilgrims (MEED 11:3:10).