Figures and data from this special event are absolutely spectacular.
Visiting the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to visit at least once in their life unless they are physically or financially unable to make the journey. This visit can be made at any time although the main pilgrimage, the Hajj, only takes place once a year during the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. According to official figures from the Saudi government, the pilgrimage attracts between 2 and 3 million visitors each year.
The city can only be visited by Muslims, and the number of visitors fluctuates from year to year, but it’s important to remember there’s a potential global market of close to 1.2 billion people. So it comes as no surprise to find out that Mecca is home to one of the largest hotel complexes in the world with 12 tower blocks with a total of 10,000 rooms, a huge shopping centre, 70 restaurants and four heliports.
Saudi’s Civil Defence mobilises 17,000 officers in a few hundred square metres during the days of Hajj and has 3700 cameras monitoring the holy sites in almost real-time. Muslims are also given electronic bracelets to avoid large groups of people out of control like those seen in September 2015 when hundreds of people lost their lives in a stampede.
More interesting facts: according to the Al Watan newspaper, a square metre of land in Mecca costs around €22,000. The average cost for each Muslim visiting is about €5000, although there are hotel rooms with direct views of the Black Stone that cost close to €2000 a night and even some suites costing as much as €5800. One last figure, the Saudi government earns between 8 and 10 billion dollars each year from Hajj, which amounts to 10% of the country’s GDP. Taking into account that the event only lasts a few short days, this figure is nothing short of spectacular.
BlueBay Makkah Grand Coral**** and BV Royal Amjad Al Salam**** are two excellent hotels to stay at during the Hajj. The former stands out for the quality of its 20 luxurious Palace Suites, and the latter, in addition to its excellent facilities, is just a five-minute walk from the Prophet’s Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi), right in the historic centre of the Medina.