Mecca
Middle East Luxury Travel Vacation Guide - Saudi Arabia Luxury Travel Vacation Guide

A pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca is one of the key tenets of Islam. Each Muslim must make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca during his/her lifetime. This is known as Hajj. Mecca is located in Saudi Arabia and is closed to tourists. Mecca is off-limits to anyone who is not a Muslim.

Mecca is believed to be the birthplace of Mohammed and this is why it is so important to Muslims. During the last month of the Islamic calendar, approximately two million Muslims visit this city.

 

Attractions in Mecca

The most holy site in Mecca is the Great Mosque. This is the focal point of Islam. Within the Great Palace is the Black Stone. According to Islam, this large black monolith fell to Earth in the time of Adam and Eve. On God?s command, Abraham and his son Ishmael built the ka?aba around it. The Ka?aba is a cone-shaped structure, also called the House of God.

The Mountain of Light is another site that Muslims want to see when they visit Mecca. This is where Mohammed received his first revelation from God. Another must see is the Zam Zam Well. Women have to use a different entrance from men, but once inside you will gaze in awe at the well that is covered in ends of glass. Having a drink from this well is very important to Muslims.

Traveling to Mecca

Although only Muslims can travel to Mecca, you still need a valid passport to get into the country. You can fly into the capital of Riyadh and then make your way to Mecca or you can fly directly into the city.

You can also travel through Jeddah. It will take about two hours to go through customs and then you can take a coach to the Holy City.

Staying in Mecca

For most of the year, there is no lack of accommodations in the holy city of Mecca. Choose a 4-star hotel or one that is more economical. The Elaf Ajyad Hotel is a 4-star hotel located in the heart of the city. It is only a few minutes away from the Great Mosque. Visitors who want to go shopping are only 5 km away at this hotel and they are only 10 km away from historic sites at Muna.

Another popular hotel is the Intercontinental Dar Al Tawhid. This hotel is an architectural masterpiece and is located directly in front of the Great Mosque. It also offers commanding views of Al Haram Al Sharif.

The hotels in Mecca offer all the amenities you have come to expect when staying in such an important location. You can combine sightseeing, airline fares and hotel packages into one vacation package to make your pilgrimage as comfortable and beneficial as possible.

Food and Drinks

The local food is liberally flavored with spices and the staple diet is pita ? flattened bread that accompanies every meal. Rice, chickpeas and cracked wheat are common foods and the meats used are lamb and chicken. Beef is rarely used and pork is prohibited.

Arabic coffee and fruit juices are the preferred drinks. Alcohol is prohibited, but you can get alcohol-free beer and cocktails although these are generally frowned upon.

Language

The main language is Arabic, but in the high tourist destinations of Mecca, where there are pilgrims from all over the world, there are people who do speak English.

Safety

Foreigners are often the target for terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia in general, but in Mecca everyone is quite safe, since only Muslims are allowed into this city.

Social Conventions

Women are required to be covered in black when they go outdoors, but if you come from a Western country, you are expected to dress modestly. Men are not permitted to go outdoors wearing shorts or without a shirt.  Shaking hands if customary when you meet someone. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink during the daylight hours and it is illegal for foreign tourists to eat or drink outdoors during this month.

Shopping

The Souks (markets) are the shopping centers and here you can buy clothing and souvenirs. There is no nightlife in Mecca outside of that offered by the hotels.

 

 
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