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A Success Story Revealed: Al Hussam Umrah, Attending to Allah’s Visitors since 1960

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We are still in our pursuit of getting to know our Umrah Service Providers and shed some light on their success stories and the value they add to the Umrah market and industry. AlHussam Umrah is one of the leading companies in the market that has been there for ages. 

For over 60 years, AlHussam Umrah and with an impeccable track record has helped pilgrims from all around the world with their journey to the Holy Lands. AlHussam is committed to high quality and excellent services that’s why their reputation in the market is unblemished.

AlHussam Umrah is a subsidiary of SIAD. The Holding is specialized in various businesses including, hotels, furnished apartments, hospitality management, transportation, catering as well as travel and tourism.

 

Umrahme team was lucky to get some exclusives and valuable insights in a gratifying phone call with Mr. Mohammed Abonar, Asst. Director at AlHussam Umrah.

Umrah Service provider Al Hussam Umrah Mr Mohamed Abonar

AlHussam a great establishment with an impressive history among Umrah Service Providers and more than 60 years in the market, Tell us more about the beginning, How it all started? 

The company was established in 1960 by Sheikh Abdulaziz Khogeer. He was an Islamic missionary in Africa, especially Central Africa where people didn’t speak Arabic like Nigeria. After people started joining Islam, they wanted to perform Umrah but they didn’t know how, and where to go. So Sheikh Abdulaziz rented apartments for them and began to serve them with his wife.

Sheikh Abdulaziz taught his sons how to serve the pilgrims. They all considered serving the pilgrims an honor and a great status and a blessing that was bestowed by Allah on them. They were serving and helping the performers with whatever they can and with all energy they have, wishing only for their satisfaction and happiness. This was a summary of how AlHussam Umrah started and afterward, we expanded our business to hotels, furnished apartments, hospitality management, transportation, catering as well as travel and tourism.

Every big company has to have a bigger team behind it. Tell us more about your team, the mechanism, and the processes, How all of them support this big establishment?

Our staff is our strongest pillar. We all have the same attitude, which is doing business with Allah. As Umrah Service Providers, we are not waiting or looking for an earthy return. Our mission is to serve the pilgrims without considering our position in the company, their satisfaction is our priority. So whoever answers the client’s call for example will be ready to offer the service or answer the query no matter what his position is. We dug deep and understood our customers’ needs and coordinated with our agents worldwide while giving our staff the appropriate training to deal with these needs and requests efficiently. 

AlHussam has maintained its status over the years and has always been a pioneer among the other Umrah Service Providers. Can you give us an estimate of the pilgrims’ numbers and How did you maintain the level of your performance over 60 years?

Our understanding of the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the vision of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah gave us the opportunity to be proactive in providing distinguished services that are in line with these visions. For example; The services offered by the Ministry nowadays like the Health Services, the VIP services, the Care services…etc are already offered by AlHussam to their pilgrims. We also have a unique advantage, over other Umrah Service Providers. We pick excellent agents to represent us around the world, this way we make sure that our pilgrims are taken care of from the moment they apply for Umrah from their country to the moment they arrive at the Holy Lands then after finishing their trip and arrive safely to their homeland. As for our numbers, our latest estimate showed that we served about 2.5 million pilgrims over the last 10 years. Our pilgrims come mainly from the Far East, Egypt, Tunisia, Morrocco, Europe, and South and Central Africa.  We serve nearly 250 K to 280 K pilgrim a year.

Of course, these numbers were significantly affected by the pandemic as no one would have ever expected the Umrah and Hajj trips to be suspended for more than a year.  

However, our experience with swine and bird flu gave us some pointers on how to deal with the pandemic crisis which isn’t the same of course, but we got a general idea on dealing with the situation. We had put together a backup plan before. So we started to apply it with some amendments. There were some strangled pilgrims in the kingdom, we kept them safe and continued to serve and help them with whatever we can, like accommodation and food, and solve the issues they had. We didn’t look at the extra cost we were only interested in their wellbeing. We supported them 24/7 till they were able to go back to their homeland.

Tell us more about your crisis management team and their maintenance methodology.

A crisis management department was formulated by the 1st of March, 2020, under the supervision of the Board of Directors. This department had all the privileges and means to work on solving whichever issues we are facing and bring us back to safe shores. Our company’s departments were all involved no matter how big or small they were.  We put communication with the pilgrims and our agents a number one priority and worked on it. We were constantly contacting our agents to reassure them and inform them that their bookings were still on and we are on the same team. Our agents trust us, but for sure they needed reassurance and we did everything in our hands to support them.

Can we say that you focused on building and strengthing your ties with your agents worldwide?

Yes for sure, this was a must as we couldn’t cut the communication and tell people that we aren’t working and we won’t take your calls. It is our responsibility to reassure our partners and regain their trust.

Umrah Service Provider Al Hussam Umrah in a team party

How successful were you in managing the situation? What’s the percentage of the solved agents’ cases?

It may reach 75% to 80%. The rest of the issues were actually out of our hands. However, we are still working on them with the Ministry of Haj and Umrah and other authorities.

It is such a great effort from your end towards the agents. Now let’s dive more into the process itself and the way you handle the Umrah agents especially after the increase in the size of the business and the number of agents from all over the world, with different cultures, languages, What are the specifications of each market? How do Umrah Service Providers do it and How do you keep things moving smoothly? 

Each market has its process and way of handling. We are constantly studying and developing to meet the needs of each market. Connecting with our agents worldwide on a regular basis gave us some pointers on how to deal with each market’s needs. However, in some situations, it was necessary to appoint a company representative from the same nationality to create a spirit of reassurance for the pilgrim in dealing with us. 

Generally, who does the bookings, AlHussam or your agents around the world? Who handles this process?

We can say that it is up to the client or the agent. We provide both options as we have ready-made packages which serve most of our clients’ and agents’ needs. However, some others prefer to book their facilities directly through the OTA or through the facility itself. We can say that the majority are satisfied with our packages and suggestions maybe 75% of them. While the other 25% like to search for other options, we usually coordinate with the hotels, OTAs, the authorities…etc. 

You offer exceptional services to the pilgrims compared to other Umrah service providers, from the accommodation to the transportation to everything that has to do with the pilgrims, and this has been the case for years now. What’s your prosperity formula?

I can summarize it in only two words Serving with Love. We offer our services to our pilgrims with love. We don’t look for materialistic gains, Yes, of course, it is part of what we seek but not all what we want and not the first thing we are after. We feel proud when we see their smiles. Although our job is so stressful and never easy and we pass by really hard situations. Nonetheless, we always think of the greater reward. Sheikh Abdulaziz Khogeer, may his soul rest in peace, taught us to serve our clients and wait for Allah’s redemption.

Now let’s know more about your relationship with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, as one of the leading companies in the market. How do you see the more technological approach adopted by the Ministry these past years especially after Covid-19?

As I told you before, We are aware of the ministry’s visions. We are one of the top service providers and we are known for the satisfaction level we offer to the pilgrims. The Ministry and Al Hussam Umrah are considered partners.  We corporate together. We always provide the Ministry with pilgrims’ feedback, agents’ suggestions as we are always in contact with them. According to this feedback, the Ministry enhances its policies, procedures, and services. We also communicate the policies, procedures, and news to the agents. So we can be considered the link between the Ministry and the agents. We are constantly communicating with both parties and sometimes we deliver official notes and some other notes which are delivered on a friendly basis. Either way, we strive to deliver both parties’ viewpoints.

What do you think about the OTAs that appeared in the market which facilitates the booking processes, managing agents …etc? Did it make it easier? Was it that efficient?  Did you try any of them?

I tried some. However, Umrahme was the best. They have the same methodology as ours. They own the task. They work on solving whatever issue we are facing rather than transferring the issue from one department to another. Whenever we have any difficulty, we find a reliable team who aims at solving the issue efficiently, effectively, and at a reasonable timing.

Did you hear any feedback on Umrahme.com and its services from your agents?

Yes, indeed. As I told you we present to our clients all the credited OTAs and leave them to choose. We also showcased the advantages and disadvantages of each OTA. 80% of our agents chose umrahme.com without hesitation. However, the other 20% didn’t choose umrahme just because they were familiar with the other OTAs and didn’t have the time to switch to another and start familiarizing themselves with it.

Our goal right now is to convert this 20% to umrahme. As a market leader, How do you see the future for Umrah and Hajj? What are the challenges? How are you planning to manage the next period?

Firstly, this season is ending soon, we don’t expect the numbers to increase. In the meantime, we consider being on the top of our clients’ minds a success. We are trying to stay supportive of our agents and clients. As we are approaching the end of the season we don’t expect any increase in the numbers of pilgrims for the second year in the row. As they already restricted 20 countries last week, however, they should be opening again in a week or two. But still, the numbers won’t reach more than 10,000 pilgrims. The last statistics showed that since last November only 3,000 – 3,500 pilgrims visited the Holy Lands.

Do you have any expectations for the new season?

That’s what we are marketing for right now. We are marketing for our new services for the 1443 season.

Would you give us an overview of your new services?

The Health and Self care services for our pilgrims. We offer a stay safe stay secure service for our pilgrims. Even when the government elevates the applied restrictions or lessened them. We will keep offering them to guarantee our pilgrims are in the safest most secured state while performing their Umrah or Hajj. 

Umrah service providers Al Hussam Umrah Team

Umrahme wishes you more prosperity and good luck with all the services that you offer. The main objective of our conducted interviews is to be the source of Umrah news and updates for people who are working in the Market. We also wanted to shed some light on the successful companies that offer pilgrims special services for a long time. What would your advice be for small agents and companies to offer special services as you do? How would these services reflect the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s vision in 2030?

 

My first and foremost advice is to Serve with Love. They will succeed. People will search for them and will use their services. When you go on a trip and you like the services offered you will recommend the company and will take all your trips with this company. Serve with love dismissing any personal judgments.

 

At the end of our phone call and after enjoying the conversation with such a remarkable personality like Mr. Mohammed Abonar, Asst. Director at AlHussam Umrah. We thanked him for his time, valuable information, and a really enjoyable talk. We are much honored to have such an establishment as our partner and wish AlHussam more prosperity and advancement.  

Check out our interview with Al Bayan for Hajj and Umrah for more industry insights

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