Not a Mecca for gold sales this year

Not a mecca for gold sales this year

Source: Al Jazeera English

This year's pilgrimage to Mecca for next week's Hajj is shaping up to be a bad year for gold sellers.

In 2012 more than three million people went on Hajj, with 1.7 million of the total number of visitors to Mecca coming from outside of Saudi Arabia.

Visitors from other Muslim countries would spend the few days before rituals start shopping for gifts and souvenirs for those at home, but this year the total number of Hajj pilgrims allowed from outside Saudi Arabia were cut by a third.

Added to the falling number of pilgrims are troubles in the region especially Egypt which have led to a decline in business for the city's many gold stores Reuters reports:

While restaurants and food stalls near the Grand Mosque remain busy, gold stores remained empty, with shopkeepers looking bored, flicking through magazines and playing with mobile phones.

"Gold sales have really taken a hit, I would say the market is down by more than 50 percent compared to the last haj season," Mohammed al-Himms, store manager at MS jewelry outside Mecca's Grand Mosque, told Reuters.

Trading in gold has also been affected by ongoing construction work around the Grand Mosque and the fall-off in sales come despite a drop in the price of gold.

Gold was last trading at around $1,270 an ounce, compared to more than $1,750 this time last year.