Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, has witnessed unprecedented amounts of pilgrims this week, reported Arab News. Pilgrimage Minister Bandar Hajjar told the newspaper that the Kingdom is expected to receive over 6 million worshippers during the current months.
Hotels in the Saudi Arabian city have been booked to capacity, forcing worshippers to pray in the courtyards of the site’s main mosque, Masjid Al Haram, and its adjoining streets.
According to the newspaper, worshippers who went to the mosque an hour ahead of the call for prayer were denied access due to congestion. The overcrowding is thought to be due to school holidays and weekly packages organised by pilgrimage operators in the Kingdom.
While local hotels charge between $147 (SR550) and $53 (SR200) a night, pilgrimage operators have reduced weekend package rates from $67 (SR250) to $27 (SR100) for the season.
There are nearly 300 Umrah travel operators spread across the city. Pilgrims from around the world travel to Mecca to carry out religious Muslim duties.
This year, Mecca saw pilgrims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Singapore, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Arab countries, and more.