Mecca

Mecca

Mecca (/ˈmɛkə/; officially Makkah al-Mukarramah,[a] commonly shortened to Makkah[b]) is the capital of Mecca Province in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia and the holiest city according to Islam.[3] It is 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah on the Red Sea, in a narrow valley 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. Its last recorded population was 2,385,509 in 2022. Its metropolitan population in 2022 was 2.4 million, making it the third-most populated city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and Jeddah. Around 44.5% of the population are Saudi citizens and around 55.5% are foreigners from other Muslim countries.[4] Pilgrims more than triple the population number every year during the Ḥajj pilgrimage, observed in the twelfth Hijri month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.[citation needed] With over 10.8 million international visitors in 2023, Mecca was one of the ten most visited cities in the world.[5] Mecca is generally considered "the fountainhead and cradle of Islam".[6][7] Mecca is revered in Islam as the birthplace of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Hira cave atop the Jabal al-Nur ("Mountain of Light"), just outside the city, is where Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad.[8] Visiting Mecca for the Ḥajj is an obligation upon all able Muslims. The Great Mosque of Mecca, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is home to the Ka'bah, believed by Muslims to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael. It is Islam's holiest site and the direction of prayer (qibla) for all Muslims worldwide.[9]