Mecca

Mecca

Overview
Mecca (ˈmɛkə; , Makkah, ˈmækːɐ) is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. The city is located 73 km (45.4 mi) inland from Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

 in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (908.8 ft) above sea level. Its resident population in 2008 was 1.7 million, although visitors more than double this number every year during Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Ḥijjah is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar.This is a very sacred month in the Islamic calendar, marking the end of the year. It is in this month in which the Hajj takes place....

.

As the birthplace of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 and a site of the composition of the Quran, Mecca is regarded as the holiest city
Holy city
Holy city is a synonym applied to many cities, all of them central to the history or faith of specific religions. Such cities may also contain at least one headquarters complex which constitutes a major destination of human...

 in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and a pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 to it known as the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 is obligatory upon all able Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s.
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Timeline

622   Prophet Muhammad completes his hijra from Mecca to Medina.

624   Muslim history: Led by Muhammad, the Muslims of Medina defeat the Quraysh of Mecca in the Battle of Badr.

1979   Grand Mosque Seizure: About 200 Sunni Muslims revolt in Saudi Arabia at the site of the Kaaba in Mecca during the pilgrimage and take about 6000 hostages. The Saudi government receives help from French special forces to put down the uprising.

1989   Two bombs explode in Mecca killing one pilgrim and wounding 16 others.

2001   In Mecca, 35 Muslim pilgrims are crushed to death during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

 
Encyclopedia
Mecca (ˈmɛkə; , Makkah, ˈmækːɐ) is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. The city is located 73 km (45.4 mi) inland from Jeddah
Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

 in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (908.8 ft) above sea level. Its resident population in 2008 was 1.7 million, although visitors more than double this number every year during Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Ḥijjah is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar.This is a very sacred month in the Islamic calendar, marking the end of the year. It is in this month in which the Hajj takes place....

.

As the birthplace of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 and a site of the composition of the Quran, Mecca is regarded as the holiest city
Holy city
Holy city is a synonym applied to many cities, all of them central to the history or faith of specific religions. Such cities may also contain at least one headquarters complex which constitutes a major destination of human...

 in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and a pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 to it known as the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 is obligatory upon all able Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s. The Hijaz was long ruled by Muhammad's descendants, the sharif
Sharif
Sharīf or Chérif is a traditional Arab tribal title given to those who serve as the protector of the tribe and all tribal assets, such as property, wells, and land. In origin, the word is an adjective meaning "noble", "highborn". The feminine singular is sharifa...

s, either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger empires. It was absorbed into Saudi Arabia in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure. Because of this Mecca has lost many thousand years old buildings and archaeological sites. Today, more than 13 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj. As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world, although non-Muslims remain formally prohibited from entering the city.

Etymology and usage


"Mecca" is the original English transliteration
Transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

 of the Arabic and is the most commonly used form in English dictionaries, by international organizations in their English language literature and in academic writing.

The ancient or early name for the site of Mecca is Bakkah (also transliterated Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, etc.). An Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word, its etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

, like that of Mecca, is obscure. Widely believed to be a synonym for Mecca, it is said to be more specifically the early name for the valley located therein, while Muslim scholars generally use it to refer to the sacred area of the city that immediately surrounds and includes the Kaaba
Kaaba
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

.

The form Bakkah
Bakkah
Bakkah is an ancient name for Mecca, the most holy city of Islam. Most people believe they are synonyms, but to Muslim scholars there is a distinction: Bakkah refers to the Kaaba and the sacred site immediately surrounding it, while Mecca is the name of the city in which they are both...

 is used for the name Mecca in the Quran in 3:96, while the form Mecca is used in 48:24. In South Arabic
Old South Arabian
Old South Arabian is the term used to describe four extinct, closely related languages spoken in the far southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. There were a number of other Sayhadic languages , of which very little evidence survived, however...

, the language in use in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 at the time of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, the b and m were interchangeable. Other references to Mecca in the Quran (6:92, 42:5) call it Umm al-Qura, meaning "mother of all settlements."

Another name for Mecca, or the wilderness and mountains surrounding it, according to Arab and Islamic tradition, is Faran or Pharan, referring to the Desert of Paran
Desert of Paran
The Desert of Paran or Wilderness of Paran , is the place in which the Hebrew Bible says the Israelites spent part of their 40 years of wandering: Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran...

 mentioned in the Old Testament. Arab and Islamic tradition holds that the wilderness of Paran, broadly speaking, is the Hijaz and the site where Ishmael settled was Mecca. Yaqut al-Hamawi
Yaqut al-Hamawi
Yāqūt ibn-'Abdullah al-Rūmī al-Hamawī) was an Islamic biographer and geographer renowned for his encyclopedic writings on the Muslim world. "al-Rumi" refers to his Greek descent; "al-Hamawi" means that he is from Hama, Syria, and ibn-Abdullah is a reference to his father's name, Abdullah...

, the 12th century Syrian geographer, writes that Faran is "an arabized Hebrew word. One of the names of Mecca mentioned in the Torah." There is a Tal Faran ("Hill of Faran") on the outskirts of Mecca.

The city's current formal name, Makkah or Makkat al-Mukarramah , means "Mecca the Honored".

Government


Mecca is governed by the Municipality of Mecca, a municipal council of fourteen locally elected members headed by a mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 (called an Amin) appointed by the Saudi Government
Politics of Saudi Arabia
The politics of Saudi Arabia takes place in the context of an Islamic absolute monarchy. The King of Saudi Arabia is both head of state and the head of government, but decisions are, to a large extent, made on the basis of consultation among the senior princes of the royal family and the religious...

. The current mayor of the city is Osama Al-Barr.

Mecca is the capital of Makkah Province, which includes neighboring Jeddah. The provincial governor was Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdul Aziz
Abdul Majeed bin Abdul Aziz
Prince Abdul-Majeed bin Abdul-Aziz was a prominent Saudi prince. He was seen as a close ally of his half-brother, King Abdullah. . He served as Governor of Tabuk Province from 1980-1986. He served as Governor of Madinah Province from 1986-2000...

 from 2000 until his death in 2007. On May 16, 2007, Prince Khalid al Faisal was appointed as the new governor.

Early history



Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

's descendants. Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 may have called the city "Macoraba", though this identification is controversial. Archaeology found no inscriptions or mentionings of Mecca from before that time, although other cities and kingdoms in that region are well documented in historical records.aaa

Around the 5th century CE, the Kaaba was a place of worship for the deities of Arabia's pagan tribes
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

. Mecca's most important pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 was Hubal
Hubal
Hubal was a god worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia, notably at the Kaaba in Mecca.-Hubal in Mecca:Hubal most prominently appears at Mecca, where an image of his was worshipped at the Kaaba. According to Karen Armstrong, the sanctuary was dedicated to Hubal, who was worshipped as the greatest of the...

, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe and remained until the 7th century CE.

In the 5th century, the Quraysh took control of Mecca, and became skilled merchants and traders. In the 6th century they joined the lucrative spice trade
Spice trade
Civilizations of Asia were involved in spice trade from the ancient times, and the Greco-Roman world soon followed by trading along the Incense route and the Roman-India routes...

 as well, since battles in other parts of the world were causing trade route
Trade route
A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. Allowing goods to reach distant markets, a single trade route contains long distance arteries which may further be connected to several smaller networks of commercial...

s to divert from the dangerous sea routes to the more secure overland routes. The Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 had previously controlled the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, but piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 had been on the increase. Another previous route that ran through the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 via the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 and Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 rivers, was also being threatened by exploitations from the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

, as well as being disrupted by the Lakhmids
Lakhmids
The Lakhmids , Banu Lakhm , Muntherids , were a group of Arab Christians who lived in Southern Iraq, and made al-Hirah their capital in 266. Poets described it as a Paradise on earth, an Arab Poet described the city's pleasant climate and beauty "One day in al-Hirah is better than a year of...

, the Ghassanids
Ghassanids
The Ghassanids were a group of South Arabian Christian tribes that emigrated in the early 3rd century from Yemen to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Holy Land....

, and the Roman–Persian Wars. Mecca's prominence as a trading center also surpassed the cities of Petra
Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

 and Palmyra
Palmyra
Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert...

. The sassanids however did not always pose a threat to Mecca as in 575 CE they actually protected the Arabian city from invasion of the Kingdom of Axum, led by its Christian leader Abraha
Abraha
Abraha also known as Abraha al-Ashram or Abraha b...

. The tribes of the southern Arabia, asked the Persian king Khosrau I
Khosrau I
Khosrau I , also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just Khosrau I (also called Chosroes I in classical sources, most commonly known in Persian as Anushirvan or Anushirwan, Persian: انوشيروان meaning the immortal soul), also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just...

 for aid, in response to which he came south to Arabia with both foot-soldiers and a fleet of ships into Mecca. The Persian intervention prevented Christianity from spreading easterward into Arabia, and Mecca and the Islamic prophet Muhammad who was at the time a six year boy in the Quraysh tribe "would not grow up under the cross."

By the middle of the 6th century, there were three major settlements in northern Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, all along the south-western coast that borders the Red Sea, in a habitable region between the sea and the great desert to the east. This area, known as the Hejaz, featured three settlements grown around oases
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

, where water was available. In the center of the Hijaz was Yathrib, later renamed Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

, from "Madinatun Nabi", or "City of the Prophet." 250 mi (402.3 km) south of Yathrib was the mountain city Ta’if
Ta’if
Ta’if is a city in the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia at an elevation of on the slopes of the Sarawat Mountains . It has a population of 521,273 . Each summer the Saudi Government moves from the heat of Riyadh to Ta'if...

, north-west of which lay Mecca. Although the area around Mecca was completely barren, it was the wealthiest of the three settlements with abundant water via the renowned Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

 and a position at the crossroads of major caravan
Camel train
A camel train is a series of camels carrying goods or passengers in a group as part of a regular or semi-regular service between two points. Although they rarely travelled faster than the walking speed of a man, camels' ability to handle harsh conditions made camel trains a vital part of...

 routes.

The harsh conditions and terrain of the Arabian peninsula meant a near-constant state of conflict between the local tribes
Tribes of Arabia
Tribes of Arabia refers to Arab clans hailing from the Arabian Peninsula.Much of the lineage provided before Ma'ad relies on biblical genealogy and therefore questions persist concerning the accuracy of this segment of Arab genealogy...

, but once a year they would declare a truce and converge upon Mecca in an annual pilgrimage. Up to the 7th century, this journey was intended for religious reasons by the pagan Arabs to pay homage to their shrine, and to drink from the Zamzam Well. However, it was also the time each year that disputes would be arbitrated, debts would be resolved, and trading would occur at Meccan fairs. These annual events gave the tribes a sense of common identity and made Mecca an important focus for the peninsula.

Camel caravans, said to have first been used by Muhammad's great-grandfather, were a major part of Mecca's bustling economy. Alliances were struck between the merchants in Mecca and the local nomadic tribes, who would bring goods – leather, livestock, and metals mined in the local mountains – to Mecca to be loaded on the caravans and carried to cities in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Historical accounts also provide some indication that goods from other continents may also have flowed through Mecca. Goods from Africa and the Far East passed through on route to Syria including spices, leather, medicine, cloth, and slaves; in return Mecca received money, weapons, cereals and wine, which in turn were distributed throughout Arabia. The Meccans signed treaties with both the Byzantines and the Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

s, and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and pasture rights. Mecca became the center of a loose confederation of client tribes, which included those of the Banu Tamim
Banu Tamim
Banī Tamīm Tamim is one of the largest of all Arab tribes. Their history goes back to pre-Islamic times....

. Other regional powers such as the Abyssinian
Habesha people
The term Habesha ābešā, Ḥābešā; al-Ḥabašah) refers to the South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to those people who ruled the Axumite Empire and the kingdom known as DʿMT .Peoples referred to as "Habesha" today...

, Ghassan, and Lakhm were in decline leaving Meccan trade to be the primary binding force in Arabia in the late 6th century.

Tradition


According to Islamic tradition, the history of Mecca goes back to Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 (Ibrahim) who built the Kaaba with the help of his elder son Ishmael in around 2000 BCE when the inhabitants of what was then known as Bakkah
Bakkah
Bakkah is an ancient name for Mecca, the most holy city of Islam. Most people believe they are synonyms, but to Muslim scholars there is a distinction: Bakkah refers to the Kaaba and the sacred site immediately surrounding it, while Mecca is the name of the city in which they are both...

 had fallen away from the original monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 of Abraham through the influence of the Amelkites
Amalek
The Amalekites are a people mentioned a number of times in the Hebrew Bible. They are considered to be descended from an ancestor Amalek....

. However, outside of Islamic tradition, little is known about the Kaaba before the 5th century CE.

Muhammad and Conquest of Mecca


Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570, and thus Islam has been inextricably linked with the city ever since. He was born in a minor faction, the Hashemites, of the ruling Quraysh tribe. It was in Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of Hira
Hira
Hira or the Cave of Hira is a cave about from Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal Al-Nūr in the Hejaz region of present day Saudi Arabia...

 on Jabal al-Nour
Jabal al-Nour
Jabal an-Nour , , meaning "The Mountain of Light", is a mountain near the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia...

, that, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad is said to have begun receiving divine revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

s from God through the Archangel Gabriel in 610 AD, and began to preach his form of Abrahamic monotheism
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

 against Meccan paganism. After enduring persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years, Muhammad emigrated (see Hijra
Hijra (Islam)
The Hijra is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. Alternate spellings of this Arabic word are Hijrah, Hijrat or Hegira, the latter following the spelling rules of Latin.- Hijra of Muhammad :In September 622, warned of a plot to...

) in 622 with his companions, the Muhajirun
Muhajirun
Muhajirun are the early, initial Muslims who followed Muhammad on his Hijra . The early Muslims from Medina are called the Ansar .-List:*Muhammad*Ali*Umar *Abu Bakr .*Salman the Persian*Bilal ibn Ribah...

, to Yathrib (later called Medina). The conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims, however, continued: the two fought in the Battle of Badr
Battle of Badr
The Battle of Badr , fought Saturday, March 13, 624 AD in the Hejaz region of western Arabia , was a key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca...

, where the Muslims defeated the Quraysh army outside Medina; while the Battle of Uhud
Battle of Uhud
The Battle of Uhud was fought on March 19, 625 at the valley located in front of Mount Uhud, in what is now northwestern Arabia. It occurred between a force from the Muslim community of Medina led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca, the town from...

 ended indecisively. Overall, however, Meccan efforts to annihilate Islam failed and proved to be very costly and ultimately unsuccessful. During the Battle of the Trench
Battle of the Trench
The Battle of the Trench also known as Battle of Ahzab, Battle of the Confederates and Siege of Medina , was a fortnight-long siege of Yathrib by Arab and Jewish tribes. The strength of the confederate armies is estimated around 10,000 men with six hundred horses and some camels, while the...

 in 627, the combined armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad's forces .

In 628, Muhammad and his followers marched to Mecca, attempting to enter the city for pilgrimage. Instead, however, they were blocked by the Quraysh, after which both Muslims and Meccans entered into the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah is the treaty that took place between the state of Medina and the Quraishi tribe of Mecca in March 628CE .-Background:...

, whereby the Quraysh promised to cease fighting Muslims and promised that Muslims would be allowed into the city to perform the pilgrimage the following year. Two years later, the Quraysh violated the truce by slaughtering a group of Muslims and their allies. Muhammad and his companions, now 10,000 strong, decided to march into Mecca. However, instead of continuing their fight, the city of Mecca surrendered to Muhammad and his followers who declared peace and amnesty for the inhabitants. The native pagan imagery was destroyed by Muhammad and his followers and the location Islamized
Islamization
Islamization or Islamification has been used to describe the process of a society's conversion to the religion of Islam...

 and rededicated to the worship of God. Muhammad declared Mecca as the holiest site in Islam ordaining it as the center of Muslim pilgrimage, one of the faith's Five Pillars
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

. He also declared that no non-Muslim
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

 would be allowed inside the city so as to protect it from the influence of polytheism and similar practices. Then, Muhammad returned to Medina, after assigning Akib ibn Usaid
Akib ibn Usaid
Akib ibn Usaid, a sahaba of Muhammad, was the first governor of Mecca. It was the first permanent civil appointment made in Islam. Akib took charge of his duties as governor of Mecca in January 630.-External links:*http://al-islam.org/restatement/71.htm...

 as governor of the city. His other activities in Arabia led to the unification of the peninsula.

Muhammad died in 632, but with the sense of unity that he had passed on to his Ummah
Ummah
Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation." It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or the whole Arab world...

 (Islamic nation), Islam began a rapid expansion, and within the next few hundred years stretched from North Africa well into Asia and parts of Europe. As the Islamic Empire
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 grew, Mecca continued to attract pilgrims not just from Arabia, but now from all across the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 and beyond, as Muslims came to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Mecca also attracted a year-round population of scholars, pious Muslims who wished to live close to the Kaaba, and local inhabitants who served the pilgrims. Due to the difficulty and expense of the Hajj, pilgrims arrived by boat at Jeddah, and came overland, or joined the annual caravans from Syria or Iraq.

Medieval and pre-modern times



Mecca was never capital of any of the Islamic states
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 but Muslim rulers did contribute to its upkeep. During the reigns of Umar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

 (634-44 CE) and Uthman ibn Affan (644–56) concerns of flooding caused the caliphs to bring in Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 engineers to build barrages in the low-lying quarters and construct dykes and embankments to protect the area round the Kaaba.

Muhammad's migration to Medina shifted the focus away from Mecca, this focus moved still more when Ali, the fourth caliph took power choosing Kufa
Kufa
Kufa is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000....

 as his capital. The Abbasid Caliphate moved the capital to Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, in modern-day Iraq, which remained the center of the Islamic Empire for nearly 500 years. Mecca re-entered Islamic political history briefly when it was held by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, an early Muslim who opposed the Umayyad caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

s and again when the caliph Yazid I
Yazid I
Yazīd ibn Mu‘āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān , commonly known as Yazid I, was the second Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate . He ruled for three years from 680 CE until his death in 683 CE. Many Muslims condemn Yazid's rule as contentious and unjust...

 besieged Mecca in 683. For some time thereafter the city figured little in politics remaining a city of devotion and scholarship governed by the Hashemite Sharifs
Sharif of Mecca
The Sharif of Mecca or Hejaz was the title of the former governors of Hejaz and a traditional steward of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

.

In 930, Mecca was attacked and sacked by Qarmatians
Qarmatians
The Qarmatians were a Shi'a Ismaili group centered in eastern Arabia, where they attempted to established a utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most famed for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate...

, a millenarian
Millenarianism
Millenarianism is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society, after which all things will be changed, based on a one-thousand-year cycle. The term is more generically used to refer to any belief centered around 1000 year intervals...

 Ismaili Muslim sect
Islamic schools and branches
Muslims are basically divided in two major factions, Sunnis and Shias, that are further divided into various Schools of Jurisprudence and orders of Imamate. All other movements within such as Salafi, Modernists, the Mystical Sufi Orders, Deobandi and Barelvi are either Sunni or Shia or both...

 led by Abū-Tāhir Al-Jannābī and centered in eastern Arabia. The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 pandemic
Pandemic
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

 hit Mecca in 1349.

In 1517, the Sharif, Barakat bin Muhammed, acknowledged the supremacy of the Ottoman Caliph
Ottoman Caliphate
The Ottoman Caliphate, under the Ottoman Dynasty of the Ottoman Empire inherited the responsibility of the Caliphate from the Mamluks of Egypt....

 but retained a great degree of local autonomy.

In 1803 the city was captured by the First Saudi State
First Saudi State
The First Saudi State was established in the year 1744 when imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Prince Muhammad ibn Saud formed an alliance to establish a religious & political sovereignty determined to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of heretical practices and deviations from orthodox Islam...

, which held Mecca until 1813. This was a massive blow to the prestige of the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire, which had exercised sovereignty over the holy city since 1517. The Ottomans assigned the task of bringing Mecca back under Ottoman control to their powerful Khedive
Khedive
The term Khedive is a title largely equivalent to the English word viceroy. It was first used, without official recognition, by Muhammad Ali Pasha , the Wāli of Egypt and Sudan, and vassal of the Ottoman Empire...

(viceroy) of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha
Muhammad Ali of Egypt
Muhammad Ali Pasha al-Mas'ud ibn Agha was a commander in the Ottoman army, who became Wāli, and self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan...

. Muhammad Ali Pasha successfully returned Mecca to Ottoman control in 1813
Ottoman return of Mecca 1813
Ottoman return of Mecca 1813 happened several days after the recapture of Jeddah during the Ottoman-Saudi war...

.

In 1818, followers of the Salafi
Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

 juristic school were again defeated, but some of the Al Saud clan survived and founded the Second Saudi State
Second Saudi State
The Second Saudi State existed during the 19th century when the rule of the House of Saud was restored to central and eastern Arabia after having previously been brought down by an Ottoman-Egyptian invasion in 1818...

 that lasted until 1891 and lead on to the present country of Saudi Arabia.


Mecca was regularly afflicted with cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 epidemics. 27 epidemics were recorded during pilgrimages from the 1831 to 1930. More than 20,000 pilgrims died of cholera during the 1907–08 hajj.

Revolt of Sharif of Mecca


In World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the Ottoman Empire was at war with Britain and its allies, having sided with Germany. It had successfully repulsed an attack on Istanbul in the Gallipoli Campaign and on Baghdad in the Siege of Kut
Siege of Kut
The siege of Kut Al Amara , was the besieging of 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. Its known also as 1st Battle of Kut. In 1915, its population was around 6,500...

. The British agent T E Lawrence conspired with the Ottoman governor Syed Hussain bin Ali Sharif e Mecca. The Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali
Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca
Sayyid Hussein bin Ali, GCB was the Sharif of Mecca, and Emir of Mecca from 1908 until 1917, when he proclaimed himself King of Hejaz, which received international recognition. He initiated the Arab Revolt in 1916 against the increasingly nationalistic Ottoman Empire during the course of the...

 revolted against the Ottoman Empire from Mecca, and it was the first city captured by his forces in the Battle of Mecca (1916). Sharif's revolt proved a turning point of the war on the eastern front. Sharif Hussein declared a new state, the Kingdom of Hejaz
Kingdom of Hejaz
The Kingdom of Hejaz was a state in the Hejaz region, ruled by the Hashemite family. The kingdom was annexed by Nejd and merged into the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz in the mid 1920s, which would eventually be known as Saudi Arabia in 1932.-Kings of Hejaz:...

, and declared Mecca as the capital of the new kingdom.

Saudi Arabia


Following the Battle of Mecca (1924)
Battle of Mecca (1924)
Battle of Mecca took place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Following the fall of Taif to King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. King Hussien bin Ali has fled from Mecca to Jeddah leaving hundreds of weapons left in the Qishla of Mecca for Ibn Saud men....

, the Sharif of Mecca was overthrown by the Saud family, and Mecca was incorporated into Saudi Arabia.

Under Saudi rule, much of the historic city has been demolished as a result of construction programs - see below.

On November 20, 1979 two hundred armed Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 dissidents led by Saudi preacher Juhayman al-Otaibi
Juhayman al-Otaibi
Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi was a militant who led the takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site, in the last months of 1979.-Biography:...

 seized the Grand Mosque
Grand Mosque Seizure
The Grand Mosque Seizure on November 20, 1979, was an armed attack and takeover by Islamist dissidents of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest place in Islam...

. They claimed that the Saudi royal family no longer represented pure Islam and that the Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram
Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims worldwide turn towards while performing daily prayers and is Islam's holiest place...

 (The Sacred Mosque) and the Kaaba, must be held by those of true faith. The rebels seized tens of thousands of pilgrims as hostages and barricaded themselves in the mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

. The siege lasted two weeks, and resulted in several hundred deaths and significant damage to the shrine, especially the Safa-Marwa
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah
Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are two small mountains now located in the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia between which Muslims travel back and forth seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.-History:...

 gallery. Pakistani forces carried out the final assault; they were assisted with weapons, logistics and planning by an elite team of French commandos from The French GIGN
Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale
The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, commonly abbreviated GIGN , is a special operations unit of the French Armed Forces. It is part of the National Gendarmerie and is trained to perform counter-terrorist and hostage rescue missions in France or anywhere else in the world.The GIGN was...

 commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

 unit.

Destruction of Historic Buildings



The officially-approved form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism
Wahhabism
Wahhabism is a religious movement or a branch of Islam. It was developed by an 18th century Muslim theologian from Najd, Saudi Arabia. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations...

, is hostile to any reverence given to historical or religious places of significance for fear that it may give rise to idolatry. As a consequence, under Saudi rule, it has been estimated that since 1985 about 95% of Mecca's historic buildings, most over a thousand years old, have been demolished.

Historic sites of religious importance which have been destroyed by the Saudis include five of the renowned "Seven Mosques" initially built by Muhammad's daughter and four of his "greatest Companions": Masjid Abu Bakr, Masjid Salman al-Farsi, Masjid Umar ibn al-Khattab, Masjid Sayyida Fatima bint Rasulullah and Masjid Ali ibn Abu Talib.

It has been reported that there now are fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of Muhammad. Other buildings that have been destroyed include the house of Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, demolished to make way for public lavatories; the house of Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr was a senior companion and the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death...

, Muhammad's companion, now the site of the local Hilton hotel; the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of Muhammad, and the Mosque of abu-Qubais, now the location of the King's palace in Mecca.

The ostensible reason for much of the destruction of historic buildings has been for the construction of hotels, apartments, parking lots and other infrastructure facilities for Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 pilgrims. However, many have been destroyed without any such reason. For example, when the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of Muhammed was discovered and excavated, King Fahd himself ordered that it be bulldozed in case it should become a pilgrimage site.

Several notable archaeological sites have been destroyed: Muhammad's birthplace was demolished to make way for a library, the house Khadijah was replaced by a public toilet, and the Abraj Al Bait Towers
Abraj Al Bait Towers
The Abraj Al-Bait Towers, also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, is a building complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The complex holds several world records, including the tallest hotel in the world, the tallest clock tower in the world, the world's largest clock face, and the world's largest...

 were built after demolishing the Ottoman era Ajyad fortress
Ajyad Fortress
The Ajyad Fortress was an Ottoman fort built in Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia, in the late 18th century. It was destroyed by the Saudi government in 2002 for commercial development, sparking global outcry.-History:...

.

Pilgrimage



The pilgrimage to Mecca attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world. There are two pilgrimages: the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

, and the Umrah
Umrah
The Umrah or is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place"...

.

The Hajj, the 'greater' pilgrimage is performed annually. Once a year, the Hajj, the greater pilgrimage, takes place in Mecca and nearby sites. During the Hajj, several million people of varying nationalities worship in unison. Every adult, healthy, sane Muslim who has the financial and physical capacity to travel to Mecca and can make arrangements for the care of his/her dependents during the trip, must perform the Hajj once in a lifetime.

Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, is not obligatory, but is recommended in the Qur'an.
Often, they perform the Umrah
Umrah
The Umrah or is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place"...

, the lesser pilgrimage, while visiting the Masjid al-Haram.

On 2 July 1990, a pilgrimage to Mecca ended in tragedy when the ventilation system failed in a crowded pedestrian tunnel and 1,426 people were either suffocated or trampled to death.

Geography


Mecca is at an elevation of 280 m (918.6 ft) above sea level, and approximately 80 km (49.7 mi) inland from the Red Sea. Central Mecca lies in a corridor between mountains, which is often called the "Hollow of Mecca." The area contains the valley of Al Taneem, the Valley of Bakkah and the valley of Abqar. This mountainous location has defined the contemporary expansion of the city. The city centers on the Masjid al-Haram area, whose elevation is lower than most of the city. The area around the mosque comprises the old city. The main avenues are Al-Mudda'ah and Sūq al-Layl to the north of the mosque, and As-Sūg Assaghīr to the south. As the Saudis expanded the Grand Mosque in the center of the city, where there were once hundreds of houses are now replaced with wide avenues and city squares. Traditional homes are built of local rock and are generally two to three stories. The total area of Mecca today stands over 1200 km² (463.3 sq mi).

In pre-modern Mecca, the city exploited a few chief sources of water. The first were local wells, such as the Zamzam Well, that produced generally brackish water. The second source was the spring of Ayn Zubayda. The sources of this spring are the mountains of J̲abal Saʿd (Jabal Sa'd) and Jabal Kabkāb, which lie a few kilometers east of Ḏj̲abal ʿArafa (Djabal 'Arafa) or about 20 km (12.4 mi) east southeast of Mecca. Water was transported from it using underground channels. A very sporadic third source was rainfall which was stored by the people in small reservoirs or cistern
Cistern
A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Cisterns are distinguished from wells by their waterproof linings...

s. The rainfall, as scant as it is, also presents the threat of flooding and has been a danger since earliest times. According to Al-Kurdī, there had been 89 historic floods by 1965, including several in the Saudi period. In the last century the most severe one occurred in 1942. Since then, dams have been constructed to ameliorate the problem.

Neighborhoods



  • Ajyad
    Ajyad
    Ajyad is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia. It contains the Ajyad Fortress....

  • Al Adl
    Al Adl
    Al Adl or Al `adl is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Faisaliyyah
    Al Faisaliyyah
    Al Faisaliyyah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Gemmezah
    Al Gemmezah
    Al Gemmezah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Ghassalah
    Al Ghassalah
    Al Ghassalah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia.-References:...


  • Al Hindawiyyah
    Al Hindawiyyah
    Al Hindawiyyah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Iskan
    Al Iskan
    Al Iskan is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia.-References:...

  • Al Khalediya
    Al Khalediya
    Al Khalediya is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Maabda
    Al Maabda
    Al Maabda is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Muaisem
    Al Muaisem
    Al Muaisem is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....


  • Al Nuzha
    Al Nuzha
    Al Nuzha is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Rasaifah
    Al Rasaifah
    Al Rasaifah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Shoqiyah
    Al Shoqiyah
    Al Shoqiyah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Shubaikah
    Al Shubaikah
    Al Shubaikah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Sulaimaniyyah
    Al Sulaimaniyyah
    Al Sulaimaniyyah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....


  • Al Tundobawi
    Al Tundobawi
    Al Tundobawi is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Utaibiyyah
    Al Utaibiyyah
    Al Utaibiyyah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Zahir
    Al Zahir (Mecca neighborhood)
    Al Zahir is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Al Zahra
    Al Zahra
    Al Zahra is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Aziziyah
    Aziziyah
    Aziziyah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia..There are also neighborhoods in the cities of Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by that name....


  • Gazza
  • Jabal Al Nour
    Jabal Al Nour
    Jabal Al Nour is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Jarwal
    Jarwal (Mecca neighborhood)
    Jarwal is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia.-References:...

  • Jurhum
  • Mina
    Mina (Mecca neighborhood)
    Mina is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia.-References:...


  • Misfalah
    Misfalah
    Misfalah is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Shar Mansur
    Shar Mansur
    Shar Mansur is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....

  • Suq Al Lail
    Suq Al Lail
    Suq Al Lail is a neighborhood of Mecca in Makkah Province, in western Saudi Arabia....


Climate



Mecca features an extremely arid climate. Unlike other Saudi Arabian cities, Mecca retains its warm temperature in winter, which can range from 20 °C (68 °F) at midnight to 40 °C (104 °F) in the afternoon. Summer temperatures are considered extremely hot and break the 50 °C (122 °F) 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.

Landmarks



Mecca houses the Masjid al-Haram
Masjid al-Haram
Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims worldwide turn towards while performing daily prayers and is Islam's holiest place...

, the largest mosque in the world. The mosque surrounds the Kaaba
Kaaba
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

, which Muslims turn towards while offering daily prayer. This mosque is also commonly known as the Haram or Grand Mosque.

As mentioned above, because of the Wahhabist hostility to reverence being paid to historic and religious buildings, Mecca has lost much of its heritage in recent years and few buildings from the last 1500 years have survived Saudi rule.

Expansion of the city is ongoing and includes the construction of 601 m (1,971.8 ft) tall Abraj Al Bait Towers
Abraj Al Bait Towers
The Abraj Al-Bait Towers, also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, is a building complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The complex holds several world records, including the tallest hotel in the world, the tallest clock tower in the world, the world's largest clock face, and the world's largest...

 across the street from the Masjid al-Haram. The towers are set to be completed in late 2011 when they will become the 2nd tallest building in the world. The construction of the towers involved the demolition of the Ajyad Fortress
Ajyad Fortress
The Ajyad Fortress was an Ottoman fort built in Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia, in the late 18th century. It was destroyed by the Saudi government in 2002 for commercial development, sparking global outcry.-History:...

, which in turn sparked a dispute between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The Zamzam Well
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

 is home to a celebrated water spring.

The Qishla of Mecca
The Qishla of Mecca
The Qishla of Mecca was a fortress in Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia, built in the 18th century to be a military castle of the Ottoman army. The building was located in the Jarwal district. It was demolished by the Saudi government to build several modern hotels facing the Grand Mosque.The...

 was an Ottoman castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 facing the Grand Mosque and defending the city from attack. However, the Saudi government removed the structure to give space for hotels and business buildings near to the Grand Mosque. Hira
Hira
Hira or the Cave of Hira is a cave about from Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal Al-Nūr in the Hejaz region of present day Saudi Arabia...

 is a cave near Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal Al-Nūr
Jabal al-Nour
Jabal an-Nour , , meaning "The Mountain of Light", is a mountain near the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia...

 in the Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

 region of present day Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. It is notable for being the location where Muhammad received his first revelations
Muhammad's first revelation
Muhammad's first revelation is the event in which he is said to have been visited by the angel Gabriel who revealed to him a verse from the Qur'an. It was after this event that Muhammad proclaimed to be a prophet of God.-Background:...

 from God through the angel Jibreel, also known as Gabriel to Christians.

Economy



The Meccan economy has been heavily dependent on the annual pilgrimage. As one academic put it, "[Meccans] have no means of earning a living but by serving the hajjis." Economy generated from the Hajj, in fact, not only powers the Meccan economy but has historically had far reaching effects on the economy of the entire Hijaz and Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

 regions. The income was generated in a number of ways. One method was taxing the pilgrims. Taxes especially increased during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, and many of these taxes existed as late as 1972. Another way the Hajj generates income is through services to pilgrims. For example, the Saudi national airline
Flag carrier
A flag carrier is a transportation company, such as an airline or shipping company, that, being locally registered in a given country, enjoys preferential rights or privileges, accorded by the government, for international operations. It may be a state-run, state-owned or private but...

, Saudi Arabian Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines is the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah. It operates domestic and international scheduled flights to over 90 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America...

, generates 12% of its income from the pilgrimage. Fares paid by pilgrims to reach Mecca by land also generate income; as do the hotels and lodging companies that house them.

The city takes in more than $100 million, while the Saudi government spends about $50 million on services for the Hajj. There are some industries and factories in the city, but Mecca no longer plays a major role in Saudi Arabia's economy, which is mainly based on oil exports. The few industries operating in Mecca include textiles, furniture, and utensils. The majority of the economy is service oriented.

Nevertheless, many industries have been set up in Mecca. Various types of enterprises that have existed since 1970: corrugated iron manufacturing, copper smithies, carpentry shops, upholstering establishments, vegetable oil extraction plants, sweets manufacturies, flour mills, bakeries, poultry farms, frozen food importing, photography processing, secretarial establishments, ice factories, bottling plants for soft drinks, barber shops, book shops, travel agencies and banks.

The city has grown substantially in the 20th and 21st centuries, as the convenience and affordability of jet
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 travel has increased the number of pilgrims participating in the Hajj. Thousands of Saudis are employed year-round to oversee the Hajj and staff the hotels and shops that cater to pilgrims; these workers in turn have increased the demand for housing and services. The city is now ringed by freeways, and contains shopping malls and skyscrapers.

Health care


Health care is provided by the Saudi government free of charge to all pilgrims. There are five major hospitals in Mecca:
  • Ajyad Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى أجياد)
  • King Abdul Aziz Hospital ( Arabic: مستشفى الملك عبدالعزيز)
  • Al Noor Hospital ( Arabic: مستشفى النور )
  • Sheesha Hospital ( Arabic: مستشفى الششة )
  • Hira Hospital ( Arabic: مستشفى حراء )

There are also many walk-in clinics available for both residents and pilgrims.

Culture



Mecca's culture has been affected by the large number of pilgrims that arrive annually, and thus boasts a rich cultural heritage. The locals speak Hejazi Arabic
Hejazi Arabic
Hejazi Arabic is a variety of the Arabic language spoken in the western region of Saudi Arabia...

, but languages from all over the Muslim world can be found amongst the pilgrims.

As a result of the vast numbers of pilgims coming to the city each year (many of whom remain permanently), Mecca has become by far the most diverse city in the Muslim world. In contrast to the rest of Saudi Arabia, and particularly Nejd, Mecca has, according to the New York Times, become "a striking oasis" of free thought and discussion and, also, of "unlikely liberalism" as "Meccans see themselves as a bulwark against the creeping extremism that has overtaken much Islamic debate".

The first press was brought to Mecca in 1885 by Osman Nuri Paşa, an Ottoman Wāli
Wali
Walī , is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh...

. During the Hashemite period, it was used to print the city's official gazette, al-Qibla. The Saudi regime expanded this press into a larger operation, introducing the new Saudi official gazette Umm al-Qurā. Henceforth presses and printing techniques were introduced in the city from around the Middle East, mostly via Jeddah.

Mecca is served by one major Arabic-language newspaper, Shams. However, other Saudi and international newspapers are also provided in Mecca such as the Saudi Gazette
Saudi Gazette
Saudi Gazette is the leading English language daily newspaper published in Saudi Arabia. and is currently available both in print and online.As of July 1, 2011, Dr Omar S. Elmershedi is the Saudi Gazette Editor-in-Chief.Managing Editor: Shams Ahsan...

, Medina, Okaz and Al-Bilad. The first three are Mecca's (and other Saudi cities') primary newspapers focusing mainly on issues that affect the city, with over a million readers.
Many television stations serving the city area include Saudi TV1, Saudi TV2, Saudi TV Sports, Al-Ekhbariya, Arab Radio and Television Network
Arab Radio and Television Network
Arab Radio and Television Network is an Arabic-language television network characterized by its multitude of channels. It is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The company was founded in October 1993 by Saleh Abdullah Kamel, a Saudi businessman...

and hundreds of cable, satellite and other speciality television providers.

In pre-modern Mecca the most common sports were impromptu wrestling and foot races. Football is the most popular sport in Mecca, the city hosting some of the oldest sport clubs in Saudi Arabia such as, Al-Wahda FC (established in 1945). King Abdulaziz Stadium
King Abdul Aziz Stadium
King Abdul Aziz Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 38,000 people, and is the home stadium of Al-Wahda FC....

 is the largest stadium in Mecca with capacity of 38,000.

Cuisine


As in other Saudi cities Kabsa
Kabsa
Kabsa is a family of rice dishes that are served mostly in Saudi Arabia — where it is commonly regarded as a national dish — and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Kabsa, though, is believed to be indigenous to Yemen...

 (a spiced dish of rice and meat) is the most traditional lunch but the Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

i mandi
Mandi (food)
Mandi is the traditional dish in Yemen native to Hadhramaut Province Yemen and many other Yemeni Cities known as Haneeth also.It is now very popular in the rest of the Arabian Peninsula and in many other Arab countries such as Egypt and Syria....

 (a dish of rice and tandoori cooked meat) is also popular. Grilled meat dishes such as shawarma
Shawarma
Shawarma is a Levantine Arab sandwich-like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats. The meat is placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day. It is eaten with pita bread, tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus,...

 (flat-bread meat sandwich), kofta
Kofta
Kofta is a Middle Eastern and South Asian meatball or meatloaf.In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions...

 (meatballs) and kebab
Kebab
Kebab is a wide variety of meat dishes originating in Middle East and later on adopted by the Middle East, and Asia Minor, and now found worldwide. In English, kebab with no qualification generally refers more specifically to shish kebab served on the skewer...

 are widely sold in Mecca. During Ramadan
Ramadan (calendar month)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed.Ramadan is the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar, and fasting in this month is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to...

 fava beans in olive oil
Ful Medames
Fūl medammis , or simply fūl, is an Egyptian dish of cooked and mashed fava beans served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. A staple meal in Egypt, it is popular in the cuisines of the Levant, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.-History:The roots of fūl...

 and samosa
Samosa
A samosa is a stuffed, deep fried,snack that is very popular in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Southwest Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Mediterranean, the Horn of Africa, North Africa and South Africa...

s are the most popular dishes and are eaten at dusk
Dusk
Dusk is the beginning of darkness in the evening, and occurs after twilight, when the sky generally remains bright and blue. Civil dusk is when the earth has rotated enough that the center of the sun is at 6° below the local horizon...

. These dishes are almost always found in Lebanese
Lebanese cuisine
Lebanese cuisine includes an abundance of starches, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten it is usually lamb on the coast and goat meat in the mountain regions...

, Syrian, and Turkish
Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including that of western Europe...

 restaurants.

The mixture of different ethnicities and nationalities amongst Meccan residents has significantly impacted Mecca's traditional cuisine. The city has been described as one of the most cosmopolitan Islamic cities, with an international cuisine.

Traditionally during the month of Ramadan, men (known as Saggas) provided mineral water and fruit juice for Muslims breaking their fast at dusk. Today, Saggas make money providing sweets such as baklava
Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

and basbosa along with fruit juice drinks.

In the 20th century, many fast-food chains have opened franchises in Mecca, catering to locals and pilgrims alike. Exotic foods, such as fruits from India and Japan, are often brought by the pilgrims.

Demographics




Population density in Mecca is very high. Most long-term residents of Mecca live in the Old City, and many work in the industry known locally as the Hajj Industry. Iyad Madani, Saudi Arabia's minister for Hajj, was quoted as saying, "We never stop preparing for the Hajj." Year-round, pilgrims stream into the city to perform the rites of Umrah
Umrah
The Umrah or is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place"...

, and during the last weeks of Dhu al-Qi'dah
Dhu al-Qi'dah
Dhu al-Qa'dah, Dhu'l-Qadah, or Dhu al-Qi'dah is the eleventh month in the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months in Islam during which warfare is prohibited, hence the name ‘Master of Truce’.- Timing :...

, on average 4 million Muslims arrive in the city to take part in the rites known as Hajj.

Pilgrims are from varying ethnicities
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 and backgrounds, mainly Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Many of these pilgrims have remained and become residents of the city. Adding to the Hajj-related diversity, the oil-boom of the past 50 years has brought hundreds of thousands of working immigrants.

Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca under Saudi law
Basic Law of Saudi Arabia
The Basic Law of Saudi Arabia is a constitution-like charter divided into nine chapters, consisting of 83 articles...

, and using fraudulent documents to do so may result in arrest and prosecution. Nevertheless, as a result of curiosity, many non-Muslims have falsely posed as Muslims in order to visit the city and experience the Hajj for themselves. The first such recorded example is that of Ludovico di Varthema
Ludovico di Varthema
Ludovico di Varthema, also known as Barthema and Vertomannus was an Italian traveller and diarist, known for being the first non-Muslim European to enter Mecca as a pilgrim...

 of Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 in 1503.. Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikhism, visited Mecca in December 1518 The most famous was Richard Francis Burton
Richard Francis Burton
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS was a British geographer, explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat. He was known for his travels and explorations within Asia, Africa and the Americas as well as his...

, who traveled as a Qadiriyyah Sufi
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 in 1853. The Saudi government supports their position using Sura
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 9:28 from the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

:
O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque.

Education



Formal education started to be developed in late Ottoman period continuing slowly into and Hashimite times. The first major attempt to improve the situation was made by a Jeddah merchant, Muhammad ʿAlī Zaynal Riḍā, who founded the Madrasat al-Falāḥ in Mecca in 1911–12 that cost £400,000.

The school system in Mecca has many public and private schools for both males and females. As of 2005, there were 532 public and private school
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

s for males and another 681 public and private schools for female students. The medium of instruction in both public and private schools is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language
Second language
A second language or L2 is any language learned after the first language or mother tongue. Some languages, often called auxiliary languages, are used primarily as second languages or lingua francas ....

, but some private schools founded by foreign entities such as International school
International school
An International school is loosely defined as a school that promotes international education, in an international environment, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International Examinations, or by following a national...

s use the English language for medium of instruction. They also allow the mixing between males and females while other schools do not.

For higher education, the city has only one university, Umm al-Qura University, which was established in 1949 as a college and became a public university in 1979.

Archaeology


In 2010, the Mecca area became an important site for paleontology
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

 with respect to primate
Primate
A primate is a mammal of the order Primates , which contains prosimians and simians. Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment...

 evolution, with the discovery of a Saadanius
Saadanius
Saadanius is a genus of fossil primate dating to the Oligocene that is closely related to the common ancestor of the Old World monkeys and apes, collectively known as catarrhines. It is represented by a single species, Saadanius hijazensis, which is known only from a single partial skull...

fossil. Saadanius is considered to be a primate closely related to the common ancestor of the Old World monkey
Old World monkey
The Old World monkeys or Cercopithecidae are a group of primates, falling in the superfamily Cercopithecoidea in the clade Catarrhini. The Old World monkeys are native to Africa and Asia today, inhabiting a range of environments from tropical rain forest to savanna, shrubland and mountainous...

s and apes. The fossil habitat, near what is now the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia, was a damp forest area between 28m and 29m years ago.

Paleontologists involved in the research hope to find further fossils in the area.

Communications


Telecommunications in the city were emphasized early under the Saudi reign. King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud
Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia
King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia was the first monarch of the Third Saudi State known as Saudi Arabia. He was commonly referred to as Ibn Saud....

 (Ibn Saud) pressed them forward as he saw them as a means of convenience and better governance. While in King Husayn's
Ali of Hejaz
Ali bin Hussein, GBE was King of Hejaz and Grand Sharif of Mecca from October 1924 until December 1925. He was the eldest son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the first modern King of Hejaz, and a scion of the Hashemite family...

 time there were about 20 telephones in the entire city; in 1936 the number jumped to 450, totalling about half the telephones in the country. During that time telephone lines were extended to Jeddah and Ta’if, but not to the capital Riyadh
Riyadh
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a...

. By 1985, Mecca, like other Saudi cities, possessed the most modern telephone, telex, radio and TV communications.

Limited radio communication was established within the Hejaz region under the Hashimites. In 1929, wireless stations were set up in various towns of the region, creating a network that would become fully functional by 1932. Soon after World War II, the existing network was greatly expanded and improved. Since then, radio communication has been used extensively in directing the pilgrimage and addressing the pilgrims. This practice started in 1950, with the initiation of broadcasts the Day of Arafa, and increased until 1957, at which time Radio Makka became the most powerful station in the Middle East at 50 kW. Later, power was increased to 450 kW. Music was not immediately broadcast, but gradually introduced.

Transportation


Transportation facilities related to the Hajj or Umrah are the main services available. Mecca has only the small Mecca East Airport with no airline service, so most pilgrim
Pilgrim
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journeying to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system...

s access the city through the Hajj terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport
King Abdulaziz International Airport
King Abdulaziz International Airport is an aviation facility located 19 km to the north of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Named after King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the airport is Saudi Arabia's third largest air facility and busiest airport by passenger. The airport occupies an area of 15 square kilometers...

 or the Jeddah Seaport
Jeddah Seaport
King Saud International Seaport has an excellent location in the middle of the international shipping route between east and west.- Overview :...

, both of which are in Jeddah.

A high speed inter-city rail line (Haramain High Speed Rail Project
Haramain High Speed Rail Project
The Haramain High Speed Rail project also known as the "Western Railway", is a high speed inter-city Rail transport system under construction in Saudi Arabia. It will link the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International...

 also known as the "Western Railway"), is under construction in Saudi Arabia. It will link along 444 kilometres (276 mi), the Muslim holy cities of Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City
King Abdullah Economic City
King Abdullah Economic City is a megaproject announced in 2005 by Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia.-Overview:...

, Rabigh
Rabigh
Rabigh is an ancient town on the western coast of Saudi Arabia . It is in Makkah Province. It used to be named "Al-Johfa" until the early years of the 17th century. In some ancient stories the town had been completely destroyed through a sea water...

, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International Airport.

The city lacks any public transportation options for residents and visitors alike, both during and outside of the pilgrimage season. The main transportation options available for travel within and around the city are either personal vehicles or private taxis.

The 18 km (11.2 mi) Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro opened in November 2010. A total of 5 metro lines are planned to carry pilgrims to the religious sites.

Encyclopedia

  • Watt, W. Montgomery. "Makka – The pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods." Encyclopaedia of Islam
    Encyclopaedia of Islam
    The Encyclopaedia of Islam is an encyclopaedia of the academic discipline of Islamic studies. It embraces articles on distinguished Muslims of every age and land, on tribes and dynasties, on the crafts and sciences, on political and religious institutions, on the geography, ethnography, flora and...

    . Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. June 6, 2008
  • Winder, R.B. "Makka – The Modern City." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2008. Brill Online. June 6, 2008

External links