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مكّة المكرمة
City of Makkah
Makkah Al Mukarrammah
Masjid al-Haram, the center of Mecca, and the source of its prominence
Nickname(s): Umm Al Qura (Mother of Villages)
Makkah is located in Saudi Arabia
Location of Makkah
Coordinates: 21°25′0″N 39°49′0″E / 21.416667°N 39.816667°E / 21.416667; 39.816667Coordinates: 21°25′0″N 39°49′0″E / 21.416667°N 39.816667°E / 21.416667; 39.816667
Country Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi Arabia
Province Mecca Province
Construction of Kaaba +2000 BC
Established Ibrahim
Joined Saudi Arabia 1924
 - Mayor Osama Al-Bar
 - Provincial Governor Khalid al Faisal
Area Mecca Municipality
 - Urban 850 km2 (328.2 sq mi)
 - Metro 1,200 km2 (463.3 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 - City 1,700,000
 - Density 4,200/km2 (2,625/sq mi)
 - Urban 2,053,912
 - Metro 2,500,000
  Mecca Municipality estimate
Time zone AST (UTC+3)
 - Summer (DST) AST (UTC+3)
Postal Code (5 digits)
Area code(s) +966-2
Website Mecca Municipality
This article contains Arabic text, written from right to left in a cursive style with some letters joined. Without proper rendering support, you may see unjoined Arabic letters written left-to-right instead of right-to-left or other symbols instead of Arabic script.

Makkah al-Mukarramah seen from Jabal al-Nur

Mecca (pronounced /ˈmɛkə/), also spelled Makkah (English: /ˈmækə/; Arabic: مكةMakka and in full: Arabic: مكّة المكرمة‎ transliterated Makkah al-Mukarramah [mækːæt ælmukarːamæ]) is the holiest meeting site of the Islamic religion, closely followed by Medina. The city is modern, cosmopolitan and while being closed to non-Muslims, is nonetheless ethnically diverse.[1][2][3]

Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael's descendants. In the 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city which was by then an important trading center. After 966, Mecca was led by local sharifs until 1924 when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and it came under the rule of the Saudis.[4] In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure.

The modern day city is the capital of Saudi Arabia's Mecca Province, in the historic Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008), the city is located 73 km (45 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (910 ft) above sea level.

Etymology and usage

Mecca is the original English transliteration of the Arabic and is still most commonly used in English dictionaries,[5] by international organisations in their English language literature[6] and in academic writing.[7][8]


Mecca is governed by the Municipality of Mecca, a municipal council of fourteen locally elected members headed by a mayor (called an Amir) appointed by the Saudi Government. 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 from 2000 until his death in 2007.[9] On May 16, 2007, Prince Khalid al Faisal was appointed as the new governor.[10]


1787 Turkish artwork of the Holy Mosque and related religious sites (Jabal al-Nur)

Early history

According to Islamic tradition, the history of Mecca goes back to Abraham who built the Kaaba with the help of his eldest son Ishmael in around 2000 BCE when the inhabitants of what was then known as Bakkah had fallen away from the original monotheism of Abraham through the influence of the Amelkites.[11] Over time, the Kaaba had become a repository for the idols and tribal deities of Arabia's pagan tribes. Mecca's most important pagan deity was Hubal, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe[12][13] and remained until the 7th century AD.

Ptolemy may have called the city "Macoraba", though this identification is controversial.[14] 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 as well, since battles in other parts of the world were causing trade routes to divert from the dangerous sea routes to the more secure overland routes. The Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the Red Sea, but piracy had been on the increase. Another previous route, that from the Persian Gulf via the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was also being threatened by exploitation from the Sassanid Empire, as well as being disrupted by the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids, and the Roman–Persian Wars. Mecca's prominence as a trading center surpassed the cities of Petra and Palmyra.[15][16]

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 desert to the east. This area, known as the Hejaz, featured three settlements grown around oases, where water was available. In the center of the Hijaz was Yathrib, later renamed Madinah, from "Madinatun Nabi," or "City of the Prophet." 250 mi (400 km) South of Yathrib was the mountain city Ta’if, north-west of which lay around 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 and a position at the crossroads of major caravan routes.[17]

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, which was originally initiated by Abraham as an act of worship of the One God but his descendents abandoned Abrahams faith over time and descended back to paganism. 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 Makkan fairs. These annual events gave the tribes a sense of common identity and made Mecca an important focus for the peninsula.[18]

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 and Iraq.[19] Historical accounts also provide some some indication that goods from other continents may also have flowed through Mecca. Supposedly 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 Makkans signed treaties with both the Byzantines and the Bedouins, and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and pasture rights. Mecca became the center of a loose confederation of client tribes, including the tribes of the Banu Tamim. Other regional powers such as the Abyssinian, Ghassan, and Lakhm were in decline leaving Makkan trade to be the primary binding force in Arabia in the late 6th century.[18]


On top of this mountain where Muhammad received the first revelation from Jibrail a.s

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570, and thus Islam has been inextricably linked with the city ever since. Muhammad was born in a minor faction, the Hashemites, of the ruling Quraysh tribe. It was in Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of Hira, that he is said to have begun receiving divine revelations from God through the Angel Gabriel in 610 AD, and began to preach monotheism against Meccan animism. After enduring intense persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years, Muhammad emigrated (see Hijra) in 622 with his companions to Yathrib (later called Madinah). The conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims, however, continued: the two fought in the Battle of Badr, where the Muslims defeated the heavily armed Quraysh army outside Madinah; while the Makkans narrowly overcame the Muslims at the Battle of Uhud. Overall, however, Makkan efforts to annihilate Islam proved to be very costly and ultimately unsuccessful. During the Battle of the Trench in 627, the combined armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad's forces.[20]

The Ottoman Empire, including Mecca

In 628, Muhammad and his followers peacefully marched to Mecca, attempting to enter the city for pilgrimage. Instead, however, they were blocked by the Quraysh, after which both Muslims and Makkans entered into the 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. Two years later, however, 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, rather than seeking revenge for years of severe persecution, declared amnesty for the inhabitants. The ancient pagan deities and artwork, including those that had been placed in the Kaabah, were destroyed by Muhammad and his followers and rededicated to the worship of the One God, the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Muhammad declared Mecca as the holiest site in Islam ordaining it as the center of Muslim pilgrimage, one of the faith's Five Pillars. Muhammad declared that no non-Muslim would ever be allowed in the city again. Muhammad returned to Madinah, after assigning Akib ibn Usaid as governor of the city. Muhammad's other activities in Arabia led to the unification of the peninsula, putting an end to the petty tribal wars that had disrupted life in the city for so long.[15][20]

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 Africa well into Asia and parts of Europe. As the Islamic Empire grew, Mecca continued to attract pilgrims not just from Arabia, but now from all across the Muslim world 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

The First Saudi State, Including Mecca

Mecca was never capital of any of the Islamic states but Muslim rulers did contribute to its upkeep. During the reigns of Uthman Ibn Affan (c. 579-656) and Umar (c. 586-590-644 CE) 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.[15]

Muhammad's migration to Medina shifted the focus away from Mecca, this focus moved still more when the Umayyad Caliphate took power choosing Damascus in Syria as their capital. The Abbasid Caliphate moved the capital to Baghdad, 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 caliphs and again when the caliph Yazid I besieged Mecca in 683.[21] For some time thereafter the city figured little in politics remaining a city of devotion and scholarship governed by the Hashemite Sharifs.

In 930, Mecca was attacked and sacked by Qarmatians, a millenarian Ismaili Muslim sect led by Abu Tahir Al-Jannabi and centered in eastern Arabia.[22] The Black Death pandemic hit Mecca in 1349.[23]

In 1517, the Sharif, Barakat bin Muhammed, acknowledged the supremacy of the Ottoman Caliph but retained a great degree of local autonomy.[24]

Mecca in 1850

Kaaba in 1880

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 viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. Muhammad 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 lead on to the present country of Saudi Arabia.

Mecca was regularly afflicted with cholera epidemics.[25] 27 epidemics were recorded during pilgrimages from the 1831 to 1930. More than 20,000 pilgrims died of cholera during the 1907–08 hajj.[26]

Saudi Arabia

In June 1916, During the Arab Revolt, the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali revolted against the Ottoman Empire from Mecca and it was the first city captured by his forces following Battle of Mecca (1916). Sharif Hussein declared a new state, Kingdom of Hejaz, and declared Mecca as the capital of the new kingdom. Following the Battle of Mecca (1924), the Sharif of Mecca was overthrown by the Saud family, and Mecca was incorporated into Saudi Arabia.[4]

View of Mecca 1910

On November 20, 1979 two hundred armed Islamist dissidents led by Saudi preacher Juhayman al-Otaibi seized the Grand Mosque. They claimed that the Saudi royal family no longer represented pure Islam and that 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.[27]

On July 31, 1987, during an anti-US demonstration by pilgrims, 402 people were killed (275 Iranian Shia pilgrims, 85 Saudis [including policemen], and 45 pilgrims from other countries) and 649 wounded (303 Iranian Shia pilgrims, 145 Saudis [including policemen] and 201 pilgrims from other countries) after the Saudi police opened fire against the unarmed demonstrators.

The Hajj festivities

Mother and son with Umrah outfit in shops nearby Holy Mosque

The main reason Muslims go to Mecca is to pray in the Holy Mosque. Often, they perform the Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, while visiting the Holy Mosque. Once a year, the Hajj, the greater pilgrimage, takes place in Mecca and nearby sites. During the Hajj, three million people of all races worship in unison.

Islam teaches that if a person performs the Umrah or the Hajj correctly and with sincere intentions (to please God), all his/her sins are forgiven.

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.

In 2009, the Hajj began on Wednesday, November 25.


Masjid al Haram panorama.

Mecca is at an elevation of 277 m (910 ft) above sea level, and approximately 50 mi (80 km) inland from the Red Sea.[17] The city is situated between mountains, which 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 metro today stands over 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi).[28]

Central Mecca lies in a corridor between mountains, which is often called the "hollow of Mecca." Mecca's location was also important for trade, and it was the stop for important trade routes.[15]

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 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 cisterns. 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.[29]


Unlike other Saudi Arabian cities, Mecca retains its warm temperature in winter, which can range from 17 °C (63 °F) at midnight to 25 °C (77 °F) in the afternoon. Summer temperatures are considered very 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 between November and January.

Weather data for Mecca
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 37.0
Average high °C (°F) 30.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 23.9
Average low °C (°F) 18.6
Record low °C (°F) 11.0
Rainfall mm (inches) 20.6

% Humidity 58 54 48 43 36 33 34 39 45 50 58 59 46
Avg. precipitation days 4.1 0.9 2.0 1.9 0.7 0.0 0.2 1.6 2.3 1.9 3.9 3.6 1.9
Source: [30]


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.[31]

Expansion of the city is ongoing and includes the construction of 577 m (1,890 ft) tall Abraj Al Bait Towers across the street from the Grand Mosque.[32] The towers are set to be completed in 2010 when they will be one of the world's tallest buildings.

The Zamzam Well is another notable landmark mentioned elsewhere in this article.

Past landmarks

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 Mosque.[33]


File:Abraj Al.jpg

Abraj Al Bait Towers, a huge hotel complex, which is set to be the largest and the second tallest building in the world upon completion in 2010, is being constructed as a plan to provide wider residencial and service facilities for millions of pilgrims that visit Mecca every month and as an overall development and expansion plan for the city

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 regions. 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, Saudi Arabian Airlines, 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.[29]

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.[34] The few industries operating in Mecca include textiles, furniture, and utensils. The majority of the economy is service oriented. Water is scarce and food must be imported via Shu'eyba water plant and Jeddah.[clarification needed]

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.[29]

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.[35]

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.


Mecca's culture has been affected by the large number of pilgrims that arrive annually, and thus boasts a rich cultural heritage.

The first press was brought to Mecca in 1885 by Osman Nuri Paşa, an Ottoman Wali. 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.[29]

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

In pre-modern Mecca the most common sports were impromptu wrestling and foot races.[29] 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 33,500.

Entry to Mecca for Non-Muslims

"Non-Muslim Bypass:" Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca.

Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca under Saudi law.[1][36]

The Saudi government supports their position using Sura 9:28 from the Qur'an:

“O you who believe! The Mushrikeen (idolaters) are (spiritually) unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.”[Qur'an 9:28]

The existence of cities closed to non-Muslims and the mystery of the Hajjis have often aroused intense curiosity in people from around the world. Some have falsely claimed to be Muslims in order to visit the city of Mecca and the Grand Mosque to experience the Hajj for themselves. The first to leave a record was Ludovico di Varthema of Bologna in 1503.[37] The most famous account of a foreigner's journey to Mecca is A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, written by Sir Richard Francis Burton.[38] Burton traveled as a Qadiriyyah Sufi from Afghanistan; his name, as he signed it in Arabic below his frontispiece portrait for The Jew The Gypsy and El Islam, was al-Hajj 'Abdullah. Individuals who use fake certificates of Muslim identity to enter may be arrested and prosecuted by Saudi authorities.[39]


The Sagga

The mixture of different ethnicities and nationalities amongst Meccan residents has significantly impacted Mecca's traditional cuisine and North American chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza and KFC are popular.

As in other Saudi 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 restaurants.

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.



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. As Iyad Madani, Saudi Arabia's minister for Hajj was quoted as saying, "We never stop preparing for the Hajj."[40] Year-round, pilgrims stream into the city to perform the rites of Umrah, and during the last weeks of Dhu al-Hijjah, on average 4 million Muslims arrive in the city to take part in the rites known as Hajj.[41]

Pilgrims are from varying ethnicities and backgrounds, mainly from Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Many of these pilgrims have remained and become residents of the city. As a result, Mecca is much more ethnically diverse than most Saudi cities and its culture is more eclectic in nature. Adding to the Hajj-related diversity, the oil-boom of the past 50 years has brought hundreds of thousands of working immigrants.


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.[29]

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.[42] The medium of instruction in both public and private schools is 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 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.


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[clarification needed] 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 the most modern telephone, telex, radio and TV communications.[29]

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 Arafat, 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.[29]


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 pilgrims access the city through the Hajj terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport or the Jeddah Seaport, both of which are in Jeddah.

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.

A 20 km (12 mi) metro system is under construction and is scheduled for completion in 2011.[43] A total of 5 metro lines are planned to carry pilgrims to the religious sites.[43]


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  28. Mecca Municipality
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  31. Orientation
  32. MECCA | Abraj Al-Bait Towers | 1,952' Pinnacle / 1,509' Roof | 76 FLOORS - SkyscraperPage Forum
  33. WikiMapia - About the Qishla and its location
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  37. Saudi Aramco World: The Lure Of Mecca
  38. Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Pilgrimage to Mecca, 1853
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  40. A new National Geographic Special on PBS "Inside Mecca"
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  42. Statistical information department of the ministry of education:Statistical summary for education in Saudi Arabia (AR)
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Arc. "Mecca." 18 Feb. 2009. <>.


  • 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

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