The holy sites of Makkah & Medina attract millions of pilgrims each year, and religious tourism remains central to their local economies. The world’s largest mosque, the Masjid Al Haram, also known as the Grand Mosque, is in Makkah and is home to the Kaaba, a shrine that Muslims consider the most sacred place in the world. While uncertainty remains surrounding Covid-19’s impact on the 2020 Hajj season, the bigger picture looks positive for the Kingdom’s two holy cities. The real estate sector is expanding alongside the Grand Mosque’s capacity, and more streamlined visa processes should encourage a larger annual influx of visitors. The key challenge for the government going forwards will be to ensure that transport and hospitality infrastructure keeps pace with the anticipated growth.
This chapter contains an interview with Fahad Albuliheshi, Mayor of Medina.