Many Nigerian pilgrims currently in Saudi Arabia for this year’s pilgrimage say they have cut down on their spending following the fall in the value of the Naira. A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a number of the pilgrims interviewed in Medinah said they have restricted their spending to only the basics.
They said they now spend only on feeding and commuting within the city. Some said they had prepared for this situation by bringing along items such as toothpaste, soap and cream, among others, to save cost. They said while there was no significant increase in the prices of many items in the shops, they still found them very expensive in comparison to their cost in Naira. “I have cut down on my expenses and I am avoiding the purchase of those gift items which I can find back home.
“This is because when I converted the prices to our Naira, I found out that it will be cheaper to buy such items back home,” a pilgrim from Katsina who preferred to stay anonymous said.
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“I only buy items such as food, because feeding is essential,” another pilgrim, Ali Adamu, said. Many of the pilgrims have been patronising local food vendors who are mostly Nigerians resident in Saudi Arabia. These food vendors have become more popular because their charges are much less than those of the restaurants and other eateries run by the locals. Similarly, It was observed that other nationals, especially Africans, also patronise these Saudi Arabia-based Nigerian food vendors. Also banks and bureaux de change do not accept the Naira currency however, it can be changed at the ATMs.
A pilgrim who used the facility said the Naira changed for N102 to one Saudi Riyal. A Nigerian, who exchanges the Naira for the Riyal, said that he changed one Riyal at N125. The Nigerian, who declined to give his name but only said he is from Borno, said during 2015 hajj the N66 exchanged for one Riyal.
“We do not like what is happening to our currency. Even the Saudis are not happy,” he said. He, however, added that the situation was not limited to the Nigerian currency as currencies of other countries such as Iran, Sudan and Ghana are experiencing similar fall in value.