MECCA (/ˈmɛkə/ ) or MAKKAH (
Arabic : مكة _Makkah_ ) is
a city in the
Hejaz region of
Saudi Arabia that is also capital of
Makkah Region . The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from
Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea
level, and 340 kilometres (210 mi) south of
Medina . Its resident
population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than
triple this number every year during the _hajj _ ("pilgrimage") period
held in the twelfth
Muslim lunar month of _
Dhu al-Hijjah _.
As the birthplace of
Muhammad and the site of Muhammad\'s first
revelation of the
Quran (specifically, a cave 3 km (2 mi) from Mecca
Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of
and a pilgrimage to it known as the
Hajj is obligatory for all able
Mecca is home to the
Kaaba , by majority description
Islam\'s holiest site , as well as being the direction of Muslim
Mecca was long ruled by Muhammad's descendants , the sharifs
, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger
polities. It was conquered by
Ibn Saud in 1925. In its modern period,
Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, home
to structures such as the
Abraj Al Bait
Abraj Al Bait , also known as the Makkah
Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world's fourth tallest building and the
building with the third largest amount of floor area . During this
Mecca has lost some historical structures and
archaeological sites, such as the
Ajyad Fortress . Today, more than
15 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 cities in the
Muslim world, despite the fact
that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.
Etymology and usage
* 2 Government
* 3 History
* 3.1 Early history
* 3.1.1 Potential ancient references
* 3.1.2 Islamic view
* 3.3 Islamic tradition
Muhammad and conquest of
* 3.5 Medieval and pre-modern times
* 3.6 Revolt of
Sharif of Mecca
* 3.8 Destruction of historic buildings
* 4.1 Incidents during
* 5 Geography
* 5.1 Neighborhoods
* 6 Climate
* 7 Landmarks
* 8 Economy
* 9 Health care
* 10 Culture
* 10.1 Cuisine
* 10.2 Demographics
* 11 Education
* 13 Communications
* 14 Transportation
* 14.1 Air
* 14.2 Rail
Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro
* 14.2.3 Intercity
* 14.3 Roads
* 15 Sister cities
* 16 See also
* 17 References
* 18 External links
ETYMOLOGY AND USAGE
"Mecca" is the familiar form of the English transliteration for the
Arabic name of the city, although the official transliteration used by
the Saudi government is _Makkah_, which is closer to the Arabic
pronunciation. The word "Mecca" in English has come to be used to
refer to any place that draws large numbers of people, and because of
this some English speaking Muslims have come to regard the use of this
spelling for the city as offensive. The Saudi government adopted
_Makkah_ as the official spelling in the 1980s, but is not universally
known or used worldwide. The full official name is _Makkah
al-Mukarramah_ or _Makkatu l-Mukarramah_ (مكة المكرمة,
pronounced or ), which means "
Mecca the Honored", but is also
loosely translated as "The Holy City of Mecca".
The ancient or early name for the site of
Mecca is _Bakkah_ (also
transliterated Baca, Baka, Bakah, Bakka, Becca, Bekka, etc.). An
Arabic language word, its etymology , 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
Bakkah is used for the name
Mecca in the
Quran in 3 :96,
while the form
Mecca is used in 48 :24. In South
Arabic , the
language in use in the southern portion of the
Arabian Peninsula at
the time of
Muhammad , the _b_ and _m_ were interchangeable. Other
Mecca in the
Quran (6:92, 42:5) call it _Umm al-Qurā_
(أم القرى), meaning "mother of all settlements." Another name
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 mentioned in the Old Testament at
Genesis 21 :21. Arab and Islamic tradition holds that the wilderness
of Paran, broadly speaking, is the
Tihamah and the site where Ishmael
settled was Mecca.
Yaqut al-Hamawi , the 12th century Syrian
geographer, wrote that Fārān was "an arabized Hebrew word. One of
the names of
Mecca mentioned in the Torah."
Mecca is governed by the Municipality of Mecca, a municipal council
of fourteen locally elected members headed by a mayor (called an
_Al-Amin_) appointed by the Saudi government . As of May 2015 , the
mayor of the city was Dr. Osama bin Fadhel Al-Bar.
Mecca is the capital of the Makkah Region, which includes neighboring
Jeddah . The provincial governor was prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz
Al Saud from 2000 until his death in 2007. On 16 May 2007, prince
Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud was appointed as the new governor.
Timeline of Mecca
Timeline of Mecca
Mecca seen from
Jabal al-Nour , 2009. 1787 Ottoman
Turkish map of the
Masjid al-Haram and related religious sites (Jabal
The early history of
Mecca is still largely disputed, as there are no
unambiguous references to it in ancient literature prior to the rise
of Islam. The Roman Empire took control of part of the
Hejaz in 106
AD, ruling cities such as Hegra (now known as Mada\'in
located to the north of Mecca. Even though detailed descriptions were
established of Western Arabia by Rome, such as by
Procopius , there
are no references of a pilgrimage and trading outpost such as Mecca.
The first direct mention of
Mecca in external literature occurs in 741
AD in the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle, though here the author places it
Mesopotamia rather than the Hejaz.
Given the inhospitable environment and lack of historical references
in Roman, Persian and Indian sources, historians such as Patricia
Crone and Tom Holland have cast doubt on the claim that
Mecca was a
major historical trading outpost.
Potential Ancient References
The Greek historian
Diodorus Siculus writes about Arabia in his work
Bibliotheca historica , describing a holy shrine: "And a temple has
been set up there, which is very holy and exceedingly revered by all
Arabians". Claims have been made this could be a reference to the
Kaaba in Mecca. However, the geographic location Diodorus describes is
located in northwest Arabia, around the area of
Leuke Kome , closer to
Petra and within the former
Nabataean Kingdom and Rome's Arabia
Ptolemy lists the names of 50 cities in Arabia, one going by the name
of "Macoraba". There has been speculation this is could be a reference
to Mecca. However, due to the lack of a description or any other
supporting literature, the claim is seen as contentious.
In the Islamic view, the beginnings of
Mecca are attributed to
Ishmael 's descendants. The Old Testament chapter
Psalm 84 :3–6, and
a mention of a pilgrimage at the Valley of Baca , that Muslims see as
referring to the mentioning of
Quran Surah 3:96.
Some time in the 5th century, the
Kaaba was a place of worship for
the deities of Arabia\'s pagan tribes . Mecca's most important pagan
Hubal , which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh
tribe and remained until the 7th century.
In the _Sharḥ al- Asāṭīr_, a commentary on the Samaritan
midrashic chronology of the Patriarchs, of unknown date but probably
composed in the tenth century C.E., it is claimed that
Mecca was built
by the sons of
Nebaioth , the eldest son of
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 , since battles elsewhere were diverting trade
routes from dangerous sea routes to more secure overland routes. The
Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the
Red Sea , but piracy
had been increasing. Another previous route that ran through the
Persian Gulf via the
Euphrates rivers was also being
threatened by exploitations from the
Sassanid Empire , and was being
disrupted by the
Lakhmids , the
Ghassanids , and the Roman–Persian
Wars . Mecca's prominence as a trading center also surpassed the
Palmyra . The Sassanids however did not always
pose a threat to Mecca, as in 575 CE they protected
Mecca city from
invasion by the
Kingdom of Axum , led by its
The tribes of southern Arabia asked the Persian king
Khosrau I for
aid, in response to which he came south to Arabia with foot-soldiers
and a fleet of ships into Mecca. The Persian intervention prevented
Christianity from spreading eastward into Arabia, and
Mecca and the
Islamic prophet Muhammad, who was at the time six years old 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 , all along the south-western coast that borders
the Red Sea, in a habitable region between the sea and the great
mountains to the east. Although the area around
Mecca was completely
barren, it was the wealthiest of the three settlements with abundant
water via the renowned
Zamzam Well and a position at the crossroads of
major caravan routes.
The harsh conditions and terrain of the Arabian peninsula meant a
near-constant state of conflict between the local tribes , 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.
Year of the Elephant _ is the name in Islamic history for the
year approximately equating to 570 CE . According to Islamic
tradition, it was in this year that
Muhammad was born. The name is
derived from an event said to have occurred at Mecca. According to
early Islamic historians such as
Ibn Ishaq ,
Abraha the Christian
Yemen , which was subject to the
Kingdom of Aksum of Ethiopia
, built a great church at Sana\'a known as _al-Qullays_ in honor of
the Aksumite king
Negus . It gained widespread fame, even gaining the
notice of the
Byzantine Empire .
Abraha attempted to divert the
pilgrimage of Arab people from
Kaaba to al-Qullays and appointed a man
Muhammad ibn Khuza'i to
Tihamah as a king with a
message that al-Qullays was both much better than other houses of
worship and purer, having not been defiled by the housing of idols.
Muhammad ibn Khuza'i got as far as the land of Kinana , the
people of the lowland, knowing what he had come for, sent a man of
Hudhayl called ʿUrwa bin Hayyad al-Milasi, who shot him with an
arrow, killing him. His brother Qays who was with him fled to Abraha
and told him the news, which increased his rage and fury and he swore
to raid the Kinana tribe and destroy the temple.
Ibn Ishaq further
states that one of the men of the
Quraysh tribe was angered by this,
and going to Sana'a, slipped into the church at night and defiled it;
it is widely assumed that they did so by defecating in it.
marched upon the
Kaaba with a large army, which included one or more
war elephants , intending to demolish it. When news of the advance of
Abraha's army came, the Arab tribes of the Quraysh, Banu Kinanah, Banu
Banu Hudhayl united in defense of the Kaaba. A man from
Himyarite Kingdom was sent by
Abraha to advise them that Abraha
only wished to demolish the
Kaaba and if they resisted, they would be
Abdul Muttalib told the Meccans to seek refuge in the hills
while he with some leading members of the
Quraysh remained within the
precincts of the Kaaba.
Abraha sent a dispatch inviting Abdul-Muttalib
to meet with
Abraha and discuss matters. When Abdul-Muttalib left the
meeting he was heard saying, "The Owner of this House is its Defender,
and I am sure he will save it from the attack of the adversaries and
will not dishonor the servants of His House."
Abraha attacked Mecca
However, the lead elephant, known as Mahmud, is said to have stopped
at the boundary around
Mecca and refused to enter. It has been
theorized that an epidemic such as by smallpox could have caused such
a failed invasion of Mecca. The reference to the story in Qur\'an is
rather short. According to the al-Fil sura , the next day, , a dark
cloud of small birds sent by
Allah appeared. The birds carried small
rocks in their beaks, and bombarded the Ethiopian forces and smashed
them like "eaten straw".
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
Iraq . 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 en 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 Bedouins ,
and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and
Mecca became the center of a loose confederation of
client tribes, which included those of the
Banu Tamim . Other regional
powers such as the Abyssinian , Ghassan, and Lakhm were in decline
leaving Meccan trade to be the primary binding force in Arabia in the
late 6th century.
Thamudic inscriptions which were discovered in south Jordan
contained names of some individuals such as "_Abd Mekkat_" which means
in English "Servant of Mecca".
There were also some other inscriptions which contained personal
names such as "_Makky_" which means "The Meccan", but Professor Jawwad
Ali from the
University of Baghdad suggested that there's also a
probability of a tribe named "Mecca".
According to Islamic tradition, the history of
Mecca goes back to
Abraham (Ibrahim ), who built the
Kaaba with the help of his elder son
Ishmael in around 2000 BCE when the inhabitants of the site then known
Bakkah had fallen away from the original monotheism of Abraham
through the influence of the Amalekites .
MUHAMMAD AND CONQUEST OF MECCA
GHAZWAH (EXPEDITIONS WHERE HE TOOK PART)
* 1st Badr
* 2nd Nejd
* 2nd Badr
Conquest of Mecca
Conquest of Mecca ,
and List of expeditions of
Jabal al-Nour is where
Muhammad is believed to have received the first revelation of God
Muhammad was born in
Mecca in 570, and thus
Islam has been
inextricably linked with it ever since. He was born in a minor
Hashemites , of the ruling
Quraysh tribe . It was in
Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of
Jabal al-Nour , that,
according to Islamic tradition,
Muhammad began receiving divine
revelations from God through the
Gabriel in 610 AD, and
advocated his form of Abrahamic monotheism against Meccan paganism.
After enduring persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years,
Muhammad emigrated (see Hijra ) in 622 with his companions, the
Muhajirun _, to Yathrib (later called Medina). The conflict between
Quraysh and the Muslims, however, continued: The two fought in the
Battle of Badr , where the Muslims defeated the
Medina; while the
Battle of Uhud
Battle of Uhud ended indecisively. Overall, Meccan
efforts to annihilate
Islam failed and proved to be costly and
unsuccessful. During the
Battle of the Trench
Battle of the Trench in 627, the combined
armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad's forces.
Muhammad and his followers wanted to enter
pilgrimage, but were blocked by the Quraysh. Subsequently, Muslims and
Meccans entered into the
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
Treaty of Hudaybiyyah , 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. It
was meant to be a ceasefire for 10 years. However, just two years
Quraysh violated the truce by slaughtering a group of
Muslims and their allies.
Muhammad and his companions, now 10,000
strong, marched into Mecca. However, instead of continuing their
fight, the city of
Mecca surrendered to Muhammad, who declared peace
and amnesty for its inhabitants. The pagan imagery was destroyed by
Muhammad's followers and the location Islamized and rededicated to the
worship of God.
Mecca was declared as the holiest site in Islam
ordaining it as the center of
Muslim pilgrimage, one of the faith's
Five Pillars . Then,
Muhammad returned to Medina, after assigning Akib
ibn Usaid 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 (Islamic nation),
Islam began a rapid expansion, and
within the next few hundred years stretched from North
Asia and parts of Europe. As the Islamic Empire grew,
to attract pilgrims from all across the
Muslim world and beyond, as
Muslims came to perform the annual
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
First Saudi State
Mecca was never the capital of any of the Islamic states but Muslim
rulers did contribute to its upkeep. During the reigns of Umar
(634–44 CE) and
Uthman ibn Affan
Uthman ibn Affan (644–56) concerns of flooding
caused the caliphs to bring in
Christian 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
Kufa as his capital. The
Caliphate moved the capital
Syria and the Abbasid
Baghdad , in
modern-day Iraq, which remained the center of the Islamic Empire for
nearly 500 years.
Mecca re-entered Islamic political history during
Second Islamic Civil War , when it was held by Abd
al-Zubayr , an early
Muslim who opposed the
Umayyad caliphs. The city
was twice besieged by the Umayyads, in 683 and 692 . For some time
thereafter the city figured little in politics, remaining a city of
devotion and scholarship governed by the Hashemite Sharifs .
Mecca was attacked and sacked by
Qarmatians , a millenarian
Muslim sect led by
Abū-Tāhir Al-Jannābī and centered in
eastern Arabia. The
Black Death pandemic hit
Mecca in 1349.
In 1517, the Sharif, Barakat bin Muhammed, acknowledged the supremacy
of the Ottoman Caliph but retained a great degree of local autonomy.
In 1803 the city was captured by the
First Saudi State , 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 _ (viceroy) of
Ali Pasha .
Ali Pasha successfully returned
Mecca to Ottoman control in 1813 .
In 1818, followers of the
Salafi juristic school were again defeated,
but some of the Al Saud clan survived and founded the Second Saudi
State that lasted until 1891 and led on to the present country of
Mecca was regularly hit by cholera outbreaks . Between 1830 and 1930
cholera broke out among pilgrims at
Mecca 27 times.
Mecca ca. 1778
Mecca in the late 1880s Mecca
in 1910 Bird's-eye view of
Kaaba crowded with pilgrims in 1910
REVOLT OF SHARIF OF MECCA
World War I
World War I , the
Ottoman Empire was at war with Britain and its
allies, having sided with Germany. It had successfully repulsed an
Istanbul in the
Gallipoli Campaign and on
Baghdad in the
Siege of Kut . The British agent
T. E. Lawrence conspired with the
Ottoman governor Hussain bin
Ali , the Sharif of Mecca. Hussein bin
Ali 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 , and
Mecca as the capital of the new kingdom.
News reports in November 1916 via contact in
Cairo with returning
Hajj pilgrims, said that with the Ottoman Turkish authorities gone,
Hajj 1916 was thankfully free of the previous massive
extortion and illegal money-demanding by Turks who were agents of the
Following the 1924 Battle of
Mecca , the
Sharif of Mecca was
overthrown by the Saud family, and
Mecca was incorporated into Saudi
Under Saudi rule, much of the historic city has been demolished as a
result of construction programs – see below .
On 20 November 1979 two hundred armed Islamist dissidents led by
Juhayman al-Otaibi seized the Grand
Mosque . They
claimed that the Saudi royal family no longer represented pure Islam
and that the
Masjid al-Haram (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 . The
siege lasted two weeks, and resulted in several hundred deaths and
significant damage to the shrine, especially the Safa-Marwa 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 commando unit.
DESTRUCTION OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS
See also: Destruction of early Islamic heritage sites in Saudi Arabia
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
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 are now fewer than 20 structures
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
Abu Bakr , Muhammad's companion, now the site of the local
Hilton hotel ; the house of Muhammad's grandson Ali-Oraid and the
Mosque of abu-Qubais , now the location of the King's palace in Mecca;
Muhammad's birthplace, demolished to make way for a library; and the
Ajyad Fortress , demolished for construction of the Abraj
Al Bait Towers .
The 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 pilgrims. However, many have been
destroyed without any such reason. For example, when the house of
Ali-Oraid was discovered, King Fahd himself ordered that it be
bulldozed lest it should become a pilgrimage site.
Hajj involves pilgrims visiting the
Masjid al-Haram , but
mainly camping and spending time in the plains of Mina and
The pilgrimage to
Mecca attracts millions of Muslims from all over
the world. There are two pilgrimages: the
Hajj and the
The Hajj, the 'greater' pilgrimage is performed annually in
nearby sites. During the Hajj, several million people of varying
nationalities worship in unison. Every adult, healthy
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
Hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, is not obligatory, but is recommended
in the Qur'an. Often, they perform the
Umrah , the lesser pilgrimage,
while visiting the Masjid al-Haram.
INCIDENTS DURING PILGRIMAGE
Main article: Incidents during the
Mecca has been the site of several incidents and failures of crowd
control because of the large numbers of people who come to make the
Hajj. For example, 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 in
a stampede . On 24 September 2015, 700 pilgrims were killed in a
stampede at Mina during the stoning-the-Devil ritual at Jamarat.
Mecca is at an elevation of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, and
approximately 80 km (50 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
Bakkah and the valley of Abqar. This mountainous location
has defined the contemporary expansion of the city. The city centers
Masjid al-Haram area, which is lower than most of the city. The
area around the mosque is 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, hundreds of houses were replaced by
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 is over 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi).
In pre-modern Mecca, the city used 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 are a few kilometers east of
Jabal Arafa or about 20 km (12 mi) 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 cisterns . The rainfall, 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 flood
was in 1942. Since then, dams have been build to ameliorate this
* Al Khalediya
* Al Zahir
Jabal Al Nour
Suq Al Lail
Climate of Mecca
Mecca features a hot desert climate . Like most Saudi Arabian cities,
Mecca retains warm to hot temperatures even in winter, which can range
from 18 °C (64 °F) at night to 30 °C (86 °F) in the afternoon.
Summer temperatures are extremely hot and break the 40 °C (104 °F)
mark in the afternoon dropping to 30 °C (86 °F) in the evening. Rain
usually falls in
Mecca in small amounts scattered between November and
CLIMATE DATA FOR MECCA
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
MEAN DAILY SUNSHINE HOURS
Jeddah Regional Climate Center
Deutscher Wetterdienst (sun, 1986–2000)
Masjid al-Haram panorama.
Mecca houses the
Masjid al-Haram , the largest mosque in the world.
The mosque surrounds the
Kaaba , 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 most of
its heritage in recent years and few buildings from the last 1,500
years have survived Saudi rule.
Expansion of the city is ongoing and includes the construction of 601
m (1,972 ft) tall
Abraj Al Bait
Abraj Al Bait Towers across the street from the
Masjid al-Haram. The towers were the third tallest building in the
world when completed in 2012. The construction of the towers involved
the demolition of the
Ajyad Fortress , which in turn sparked a dispute
Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Zamzam Well is home to a celebrated water spring. The Qishla of
Mecca was an Ottoman castle 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
Hira is a cave near Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal
Al-Nūr in the
Tihamah region of present-day
Saudi Arabia . It is
notable for being the location where
Muhammad received his first
revelations from God through the angel
Jibreel , also known as Gabriel
Mecca as seen from the International Space
Station . The
The Qur\'an Gate , located on the Jeddah-
Mecca Highway, marks the
boundary of the area where non-Muslims are prohibited to enter. It is
the entrance to Makkah and the birthplace of Muhammad. The gate was
designed in 1979 by an Egyptian architect, Samir Elabd, for the
architectural firm IDEA Center. The structure is that of a book,
representing the Qur'an, sitting on a rehal, or book stand.
Abraj Al Bait
Abraj Al Bait .
The Meccan economy has been heavily dependent on the annual
pilgrimage. As one academic put it, " have no means of earning a
living but by serving the hajjis." Income 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 Arabian Peninsula.
The income was generated in a number of ways. One method was taxing
the pilgrims. Taxes especially increased during the
Great Depression ,
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 ,
Saudia , 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
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. Makkah Azizia district at noon
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 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 is provided by the Saudi government free of charge to all
pilgrims. There are ten hospitals in Mecca:
Ajyad Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى أجياد)
* King Faisal Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى الملك فيصل
* King Abdul Aziz Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى الملك
عبدالعزيز بحي الزاهر)
* Al Noor Specialist Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى النور
Hira Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى حراء)
* Maternity and Children Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى
* King Abdullah Medical City (Arabic: مدينة الملك
* Khulais General Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى خليص
* Al Kamel General Hospital (Arabic: مستشفى الكامل
* Ibn Sena Hospital in Bahhrah (Arabic: مستشفى ابن سينا
بحداء / بحره)
There are also many walk-in clinics available for both residents and
Masjid al-Haram and Kaaba.
Mecca's culture has been affected by the large number of pilgrims
that arrive annually, and thus boasts a rich cultural heritage.
As a result of the vast numbers of pilgrims coming to the city each
Mecca has become by far the most diverse city in the Muslim
world. In contrast to the rest of Saudi Arabia, and particularly Najd
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 Pasha , an
Wāli . 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
Mecca owns its hometown paper, _
Al Nadwa _. However, other Saudi and
international newspapers are also provided in
Mecca such as the _Saudi
Gazette _, _
Al Madinah _, _
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 and various cable, satellite and other specialty television
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 is the
largest stadium in
Mecca with capacity of 38,000.
As in other Arabian cities
Kabsa (a spiced dish of rice and meat) is
the most traditional lunch but the Yemeni mandi (a dish of rice and
tandoori cooked meat) is also popular. Grilled meat dishes such as
shawarma (flat-bread meat sandwich), kofta (meatballs) and kebab are
widely sold in Mecca. During Ramadan , fava beans in olive oil and
samosas are the most popular dishes and are eaten at dusk . These
dishes are almost always found in Lebanese , Syrian , and Turkish
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 _
and _basbosa_ along with fruit juice drinks.
In the 20th century, many fast-food chains 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.
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
Umrah , and during the last weeks of Dhu al-Qi\'dah , on average 4
million Muslims arrive in the city to take part in the rites known as
Pilgrims are from varying ethnicities and backgrounds, mainly Central
South Asia ,
Southeast Asia ,
Europe , the
Middle East , and
Africa . Many of these pilgrims have remained and become residents of
the city. The Burmese are an older, more established community who
number roughly 250,000. Adding to the Hajj-related diversity, the
oil-boom of the past 50 years has brought hundreds of thousands of
Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter
Mecca under Saudi law , and
using fraudulent documents to do so may result in arrest and
prosecution. The prohibition extends to Ahmadis , as they are
considered non-Muslims. Nevertheless, many non-Muslims and Ahmadis
have visited the city. The first such recorded example of non-Muslims
is that of
Ludovico di Varthema of
Bologna in 1503.
Guru Nanak Sahib
, the founder of Sikhism, visited
Mecca in December 1518. One of the
most famous was
Richard Francis Burton , who traveled as a Qadiriyyah
Afghanistan in 1853. The Saudi government supports their
Sura 9:28 from the Qur\'an : _O ye who believe! Truly
the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs,
approach the Sacred Mosque._
See also: List of universities and colleges in
Formal education started to be developed in the late Ottoman period
continuing slowly into and Hashimite times. The first major attempt to
improve the situation was made by a
Zaynal Riḍā, who founded the Madrasat al-Falāḥ 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
schools for males and another 681 public and private schools for
female students. The medium of instruction in both public and private
Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language , but
some private schools founded by foreign entities such as International
schools use the English language for medium of instruction. They also
allow 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.
In 2010, the
Mecca area became an important site for paleontology
with respect to primate evolution, with the discovery of a _Saadanius
Saadanius is considered to be a primate closely related to
the common ancestor of the Old World monkeys and apes . The fossil
habitat, near what is now the
Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia, was a
damp forest area between 28 million and 29 million years ago.
Paleontologists involved in the research hope to find further fossils
in the area.
Telecommunications in the city were emphasized early under the Saudi
reign. King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (Ibn Saud) pressed them forward as he
saw them as a means of convenience and better governance. While in
King Husayn\'s 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 . By 1985, Mecca,
like other Saudi cities, possessed modern telephone, telex, radio and
Limited radio communication was established within the Kingdom 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
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.
Mecca has only the small
Mecca East Airport with no airline service,
Mecca is served by
King Abdulaziz International Airport (IATA :
JED, ICAO : OEJN) located at
Jeddah , about 100 kilometres from the
city centre. To cater the large number of
Hajj pilgrims, this airport
has a specifically built
Hajj terminal which can accommodate 47 planes
simultaneously and it can receive 3,800 pilgrims per hour during the
Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro
Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro is a metro line in mecca opened in
13 November 2010. This 18.1 kilometer elevated metro transports
pilgrims to holy sites
Mount Arafat ,
Muzdalifah and Mina in the city
during hajj reducing the congestion on the roads.
Mecca Metro Route Map
Mecca Metro , officially known as MAKKAH MASS RAIL TRANSIT, is a
planned four-line metro system for the city. This will be in addition
Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro which carries pilgrims during
A high speed inter-city rail line (Haramain High Speed Rail Project
also known as the "Western Railway"), is under construction in Saudi
Arabia. It will link along 444 kilometres (276 mi), the
King Abdullah Economic City ,
King Abdulaziz International Airport . This rail line is
planned to provide a safe and comfortable transport in 320 kilometres
per hour (200 mph) electric trains in-turn reducing the travel time to
less than two hours between
Medina . It will be built by a
business consortium from
Entry Gate of
Mecca on Jaddah Makkah Highway
Some of the intercity highways which connects the city of
Highway 40 (Saudi Arabia) – connects
Mecca and Mecca
* Highway 15 (Saudi Arabia) – connects
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* ^ "High speed stations for a high speed railway". _Railway
Gazette International _. 23 April 2009.
* ^ "Al Rajhi wins Makkah – Madinah civils contract". _Railway
Gazette International _. 9 February 2009.
* ^ El consorcio español firma el contrato del Ave a la Meca el 14
de enero Economía EL PAÍS. _El País_. (9 January 2012).
* ^ "Roads" Archived 4 February 2015 at the
Wayback Machine ..
* ^ "THE ROADS AND PORTS SECTORS IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA".
saudia-online.com. 5 November 2001
* the editors of Time-Life Books. (1999). _What life was like in the
lands of the prophet: Islamic world, AD 570 – 1405_. Time-Life
Books. ISBN 0-7835-5465-6 .
* Lapidus, Ira M. (1988). _A History of Islamic Societies_.
Cambridge University Press . ISBN 0-521-22552-3 .
FURTHER READING _See also: Bibliography of the history of
* Bianca, Stefano (2000), "Case Study 1: The Holy Cities of Islam
– The Impact of Mass Transportation and Rapid Urban Change", _Urban
Form in the Arab World_, Zurich:
ETH Zurich , ISBN 3728119725 ,
* Bosworth, C. Edmund, ed. (2007). "Mecca". _Historic Cities of the
Islamic World_. Leiden:
Koninklijke Brill .
* Dumper, Michael R. T.; Stanley, Bruce E., eds. (2008), "Makkah",
_Cities of the
Middle East and North Africa_, Santa Barbara, USA:
* Rosenthal, Franz;
Ibn Khaldun (1967). _The Muqaddimah: An
Introduction to History_. Princeton University Press. ISBN
0-691-09797-6 . CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link )
* Watt, W. Montgomery. "Makka – The pre-Islamic and early Islamic
periods." _Encyclopaedia of
Islam _. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th.
Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill,
2008. Brill Online. 6 June 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. 6 June 2008
* "Quraysh". _