Mecca is the Saudi Arabian city in the Hejaz region. It is the birthplace of Muhammad (SAW) the Prophet of Islam and also home to the cave of Hira where Muhammad (SAW) received his first divine revelation. Mecca is viewed as the holiest city of Islam. Its inhabitants are about 2 million, even though the population swells three times that, when the city hosts the annual pilgrimage in the Islamic lunar month of Dul Hajj. The hajj pilgrimage is obligatory for all able and willing Muslims. Each year pilgrims from all over the world come to pray at and circumambulate the Kabah, and it is also the direction in which Muslims all over the world fall prostrate when they worship Allah.
The total area of Mecca today is over 1,200 km2 .Mecca is at an elevation of 277 m above sea level. Mecca lies in a corridor between two mountains, called Safa and Marwa. The city radiate outwards, with its center at the Kabah in the Masjid haram that is in the old part of the city. Hundreds of houses were replaced to widen avenues when the Grand Mosque of Mecca was expanded.
The Shurafa of Mecca were the dependents of Muhammad (SAW) who used to rule over the holy city independently until Ibn Saud, the first King of Saudi Arabia conquered it in 1925. In its modern times, Mecca has seen incredible growth in magnitude and frame. The Mecca Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world’s fourth tallest building is situated here. This building is also the third largest building by floor area. During this development, Mecca had to sacrifice some of its Turkish era structures, like the Ajyad fortress. Mecca is the most cosmopolitan city in the Muslim world, even though the city is off limits to non-Muslims.
The annual pilgrimage has heavily escalated Meccan economy. The Meccan city government taxes the pilgrims. The taxes greatly increased especially during the Great Depression. Another way the Hajj generates income is through services to pilgrims. The entire Meccan economy is great service oriented, except a few industries working in the city. Saudi airline generates 12% of its income from the pilgrimage.
The spiced rice and meat dish called Kasbah is the most traditional lunch of the area with a tasty rival the Yemeni Mandi which is also popular. Grilled meat dishes such as shawarma, koftas and kebabs are extensively consumed by Meccans and tourists alike. The city is surrounded by Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish restaurants.
Mecca is and will remain a hub of Islam. It is a place of interaction between the Muslims that are coming from the near and far, from Morocco to eastern China and from the former Soviet states of Russia to South Africa. Mecca is a shining citadel of Islam.
|Currency used||Saudi Riyals|