Mecca is a holy place of Muslims in Saudi Arabia where it is believed that the prophet Muhammad lived and taught more than 1,300 years ago. Mecca is the holiest city in Islam. Mecca had become an important place in the history by the time when Prophet Mohammed (peace is upon him) was born in about 570 AD. Mecca, the holy place has fallen with yearly ebb and flow of pilgrims as a result of growing Muslim community in the World and eventually the spread of Islam. The economic status of the city greatly depends on the large number of pilgrims visiting every year and their accommodation, feeding and transportation. (Ahmed Z.U. 1992).
Prophet Mohammed (peace is upon him) was born in Makkah and was descended with the Holy Quran, and since then the propagation for Islam was launched. In the heart of the city is the Holy Mosque in the centre of which the Holy Kaaba is located, The Maqam of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Ismaiel’s stone (May God bless them), Zamzam well in which water has been pouring from hundreds of years, and Safa and Marwah where Muslims make Saie. There are other holy shrines of Mina, Muzdalifa, and Arafat near Makkah. Arafat is located at the Mount Arafat where pilgrims perform the main ritual of Hajj as the day of Arafat.
Hajj is scheduled according to the lunar calendar and so moves 11 days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar. Due to seasonal variation over time, the Hajj occurs at different times each year (Yamin M. et al 2009). It becomes difficult in summers as the temperatures in Saudi Arabia are very high. Unlike other Saudi Arabian cities, Mecca retains its warm temperature in winter, which can range from 17 °C at midnight to 25 °C in the afternoon. Summer temperatures are considered very hot and break the 40 °C mark in the afternoon dropping to 30 °C (86 °F) in the evening. Rain usually falls in Mecca in small amounts between November and January.
Tourism at Mecca
Mecca, the holy city in Saudi Arabia is believed to be the centre of the Islamic world. The journey to Mecca as the Hajj is popular to the Muslims all over the world but the Mecca travel is forbidden for non-Muslims. There are billions of people coming to Mecca for Hajj from all over the world. The Hajj in Mecca is the largest pilgrimage in the world.
The Mecca city is Saudi Arabia is increasingly called Makkah. It is similar to the pronunciation of the Arabic word than does the English translation called Mecca. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the premises of Mecca, Saudi Arabia at any time of the year due to the fact that the Mecca travel and the Hajj are only intended for Muslims. It has happened in the past that several non-Muslims have entered Mecca; the penalties of it are quite harsh including deportation and jail time.
Tourism in Mecca involves some advance planning. There is a special visa required by every Muslim who wishes to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. There is a valid visa required to enter the Hajj grounds. In case of Saudi citizens, permission is necessary. The foreign pilgrims intend to perform Hajj applies for a visa by furnishing information and undergoing some medical examination. The visa is granted by Saudi government by approval of the Hajj management in Saudi Arabia. Each pilgrim is assigned to a group of Hajj management called Munazzim once their visa is granted. Munnazim is responsible for their travel and accommodation arrangements in the Hejaz (Yamin M. et al 2009). In addition, a letter from the local mosque stating that the person is a Muslim is also required. Women who are under 45 years of age must travel with a male or a mahram considered being the head of the family. There should be a proof of their relationship. On the other hand, women over 45 years of age must carry a permission letter from her husband or her father along with the proof her being a part of the Mecca tourism group. The visa to travel Mecca does not permit to travel outside of Mecca and if anyone wants to travel other cities, they must apply for additional visa.