1. Mecca

Mecca (sometimes spelled also as Makkah or Makkah al-Mukarramah) is a city in the region called Hejaz. Previously a part of Rashidun Caliphate, Ottoman Empire and a Kingdom of Hejaz, since 1924 it is incorporated in Saudi Arabia, and is also the capital and administrative headquarters of the Makkah Region.

The city is located 70 km inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m above sea level, and 340 kilometres south of Medina.

Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Hajj (Arabic: "Pilgrimage") period held in the 12th Muslim lunar month of Dhū al-Hijjah.

As the birthplace of Muhammad (ﷺ), and the site of Muhammad's first revelation of the Quran (specifically, a cave 3 km from Mecca), Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam and a pilgrimage to it, known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims.

Mecca is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam's holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer.

Mecca was conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925.

In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, home to structures such as the Abraj Al Bait, also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the world's 4th tallest building and the building with the 3rd largest amount of floor area.

During this expansion, Mecca has lost some historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress.

Today, more than 15 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million during the few days of the Hajj.

As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Muslim world, although non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city

2. Etymology and usage

"Mecca" is the familiar form of the English transliteration for the Arabic name of the city, although the official transliteration used by the Saudi government is Makkah, which is closer to the Arabic pronunciation.

The word "Mecca" in English has come to be used to refer to any place that draws large numbers of people, and because of this some English speaking Muslims have come to regard the use of this spelling for the city as offensive.

The Saudi government adopted Makkah as the official spelling in the 1980s, but is not universally known or used worldwide.

The full official name is Makkah al-Mukarramah, which means "Mecca the Honoured", but is also loosely translated as "The Holy City of Mecca".

The ancient or early name for the site of Mecca is Bakkah. An Arabic language word, its etymology, like that of Mecca, is obscure:

Widely believed to be a synonym for Mecca, it is said to be more specifically the early name for the valley located therein, while Muslim scholars generally use it to refer to the sacred area of the city that immediately surrounds and includes the Kaaba.

The name Bakkah is used for the name Mecca in the Quran in 3:96, while the form Mecca is used in 48:24. In South Arabic, the language in use in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Muhammad(ﷺ), the b and m were interchangeable.

Other references to Mecca in the Quran (6:92, 42:5) call it Umm al-Qurā, meaning "Mother of All Settlements"/"mother of villages".

3. Government

Mecca is governed by the Municipality of Mecca, a municipal council of 14 locally elected members headed by a mayor (called Al-Amin) appointed by the Saudi government.

Mecca is the capital of the Makkah Region, which includes neighbouring Jeddah.

4. History

5. Islamic view

In the Islamic view, the beginnings of Mecca are attributed to Ishmael's descendants:

The Old Testament chapter Psalm 84:3–6, and a mention of a pilgrimage at the Valley of Baca, that Muslims see as referring to the mentioning of Mecca as Bakkah in Quran's Surah 3:96.

Sometime in the 5th century, the Kaaba was a place of worship for the deities of Arabia's pagan tribes. Mecca's most important pagan deity was Hubal, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe and remained until the 7th century.

In some chronology, probably composed in the 10th century C.E., it is claimed that Mecca was built by the sons of Nebaioth, the eldest son of Ishmael.

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, since battles elsewhere were diverting trade routes from dangerous sea routes to more secure overland routes:

The Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the Red Sea, but piracy had been increasing.

Another previous route that ran through the Persian Gulf via the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was also being threatened by exploitations from the Sassanid Empire, and was being disrupted by the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids, and the Roman–Persian Wars.

Mecca's prominence as a trading centre also surpassed the cities of Petra and Palmyra.

The Sassanids however did not always pose a threat to Mecca, as in 575 CE they protected Mecca city from invasion by the Kingdom of Axum, led by its Christian leader Abraha.

The tribes of southern Arabia asked the Persian king Khosrau I for aid, in response to which he came south to Arabia with foot-soldiers and a fleet of ships into Mecca.

The Persian intervention prevented Christianity from spreading eastward into Arabia, and Mecca and the Islamic prophet Muhammad (), who was at the time 6 years old in the Quraysh tribe, "would not grow up under the cross."

By the middle of the 6th century, there were 3 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 mountains to the east.

Although the area around Mecca was completely barren, it was the wealthiest of the 3 settlements with abundant water via the renowned Zamzam Well and a position at the crossroads of major caravan routes.

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:

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 Meccan fairs. These annual events gave the tribes a sense of common identity and made Mecca an important focus for the peninsula.

The Year of the Elephant is the name in Islamic history for the year approximately equating to 570 CE. According to Islamic tradition, it was in this year that Muhammad () was born.

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 Shām and Iraq.

Historical accounts also provide some indication that goods from other continents may also have flowed through Mecca:

Goods from Africa and the Far East passed through en 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 Meccans signed treaties with both the Byzantines and the Bedouins, and negotiated safe passages for caravans, giving them water and pasture rights.

Mecca became the centre of a loose confederation of client tribes, which included those of the Banu Tamim.

Other regional powers such as the Abyssinian, Ghassan, and Lakhm were in decline leaving Meccan trade to be the primary binding force in Arabia in the late 6th century.

6. Islamic tradition

According to Islamic tradition, the history of Mecca goes back to Abraham (Ibrahim), who built the Kaaba with the help of his elder son Ishmael in around 2000 BCE,

when the inhabitants of the site then known as Bakkah had fallen away from the original monotheism of Abraham through the influence of the Amalekites.

7. Muhammad and conquest of Mecca

Jabal al-Nour is where Muhammad is believed to have received the first revelation of God through the Archangel Gabriel.

Muhammad (ﷺ) was born in Mecca in 570, and thus Islam has been inextricably linked with it ever since. He was born in a minor faction, the Hashemites, of the ruling Quraysh tribe.

It was in Mecca, in the nearby mountain cave of Hira on Jabal al-Nour, that, according to Islamic tradition, Muhammad (ﷺ) began receiving divine revelations from God through the Archangel Gabriel in 610 AD, and advocated his form of Abrahamic monotheism against Meccan paganism.

After enduring persecution from the pagan tribes for 13 years, Muhammad (ﷺ) emigrated (see Hijrah) in 622 with his companions, the Muhajirun, to Yathrib (later called Medina).

The conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims, however, continued:

The two fought in the Battle of Badr, where the Muslims defeated the Quraysh outside Medina; while the Battle of Uhud ended indecisively.

Overall, Meccan efforts to annihilate Islam failed and proved to be costly and unsuccessful. During the Battle of the Trench in 627, the combined armies of Arabia were unable to defeat Muhammad's forces.

In 628, Muhammad (ﷺ) and his followers wanted to enter Mecca for pilgrimage, but were blocked by the Quraysh:

Subsequently, Muslims and Meccans 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.

It was meant to be a ceasefire for 10 years. However, just 2 years later, the Quraysh violated the truce by slaughtering a group of Muslims and their allies.

Muhammad (ﷺ) and his companions, now 10,000 strong, marched into Mecca:

However, instead of continuing their fight, the city of Mecca surrendered to Muhammad, who declared peace and amnesty for its inhabitants. The pagan imagery was destroyed by Muhammad's followers and the location Islamized and rededicated to the worship of God.

Mecca was declared as the holiest site in Islam ordaining it as the centre of Muslim pilgrimage, one of the faith's Five Pillars.

Then, Muhammad (ﷺ) returned to Medina, after assigning Akib ibn Usaid as governor of the city. His other activities in Arabia led to the unification of the peninsula.

Muhammad (ﷺ) 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 into Asia and parts of Europe.

As the Islamic Empire grew, Mecca continued to attract pilgrims 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.

8. Medieval and pre-modern times

9. The First Saudi State

Mecca was never the capital of any of the Islamic states but Muslim rulers did contribute to its upkeep:

During the reigns of Umar (634–644 CE) and Uthmān ibn Affān (644–656) 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.

Muhammad's migration to Medina shifted the focus away from Mecca.

This focus moved still more when Alī abi Tālib (as) took power choosing Kufa as his capital.

The Umayyad Caliphate moved the capital to Damascus in Syria and the Abbasid Caliphate to Baghdad, in modern-day Iraq, which remained the centre of the Islamic Empire for nearly 500 years.

Mecca re-entered Islamic political history during the Second Islamic Civil War, when it was held by Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, an early Muslim who opposed the Umayyad caliphs. The city was twice besieged by the Umayyads, in 683 and 692.

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 Abū-Tāhir Al-Jannābī and centred in eastern Arabia and contemporary Bahrain.

The Black Death pandemic hit Mecca in 1349.

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

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 Khedive (viceroy) of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha.

Muhammad Ali Pasha successfully returned Mecca to Ottoman control in 1813.

In 1818, followers of the Wahhabi juristic school were again defeated, but some of the Al Saud clan survived and founded the Second Saudi State that lasted until 1891 and led on to the present country of Saudi Arabia.

Mecca was regularly hit by cholera outbreaks. Between 1830 and 1930 cholera broke out among pilgrims at Mecca 27 times.

10. Revolt of the Sharif of Mecca

In World War I, the Ottoman Empire was at war with Britain and its allies, having sided with Germany. It had successfully repulsed an attack on Istanbul in the Gallipoli Campaign (between 19 February 1915 and 9 January 1916) and on Baghdad in the Siege of Kut Al Amara (7 December 1915 – 29 April 1916).

The British agent T. E. Lawrence conspired with the Ottoman governor Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca:

Hussein bin Ali revolted against the Ottoman Empire from Mecca, and it was the first city captured by his forces in the Battle of Mecca (1916).

Sharif's revolt proved a turning point of the war on the eastern front. Sharif Hussein declared a new state, the Kingdom of Hejaz, and declared Mecca as the capital of the new kingdom.

News reports in November 1916 via contact in Cairo with returning Hajj pilgrims, said that with the Ottoman Turkish authorities gone, Mecca at Hajj 1916 was thankfully free of the previous massive extortion and illegal money-demanding by Turks who were agents of the Ottoman government.

11. Saudi Arabia

Following the 1924 Battle of Mecca, the Sharif of Mecca was overthrown by the Saud family, and Mecca was incorporated into Saudi Arabia.

Britain, which in 1916 helped to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and found the Kingdom of Hejaz, in 1924 decided not to help him to repel the Saudi attack, which eventually took Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. King Hussein was then forced to flee to Cyprus, before going to live in Amman, Transjordan

Under Saudi rule, much of the historic city has been demolished as a result of construction programs.

On 20 November 1979 200 armed Islamist dissidents led by Saudi preacher Juhayman al-Otaybi seized the Grand Mosque:

They claimed that the Saudi royal family no longer represented pure Islam and that the Masjid al-Haram (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 2 weeks, and resulted in several hundred deaths and significant damage to the shrine.

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.

12. Destruction of historic buildings

Under Saudi rule, it has been estimated that since 1985 about 95% of Mecca's historic buildings, most over a thousand years old, have been demolished.

Historic sites of religious importance which have been destroyed by the Saudis include 5 of the renowned "Seven Mosques" initially built by Muhammad's daughter and 4 of his "greatest Companions":

Masjid Abu Bakr, Masjid Salman al-Farsi, Masjid Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, Masjid Sayyida Fatima bint Rasūlu-llāh and Masjid Alī ibn Abu Tālib.

It has been reported that there are now fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of Muhammad.

Other buildings that have been destroyed include the house of Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad (ﷺ) , demolished to make way for public lavatories;

the house of Abu Bakr, Muhammad's companion, now the site of the local Hilton hotel;

Muhammad's birthplace, demolished to make way for a library; and the Ottoman-era Ajyad Fortress, demolished for construction of the Abraj Al Bait Towers.

The reason for much of the destruction of historic buildings has been for the construction of hotels, apartments, parking lots, and other infrastructure facilities for Hajj pilgrims.

However, many have been destroyed without any such reason:

For example, when the house of Ali-Oraid was discovered, King Fahd himself ordered that it be bulldozed lest it should become a pilgrimage site.

13. Pilgrimage

 The Hajj involves pilgrims visiting Al-Haram Mosque, but mainly camping and spending time in the plains of Mina and Arafat.

The pilgrimage to Mecca attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world. There are two pilgrimages: the Hajj and the Umrah:

The Hajj, the 'greater' pilgrimage is performed annually in Mecca and nearby sites. During the Hajj, several million people of varying nationalities worship in unison.

Every adult, healthy 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 at least once in a lifetime.

Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, is not obligatory, but is recommended in the Qur'an. Often, they perform the Umrah while visiting Al-Haram Mosque.

Mecca has been the site of several incidents and failures of crowd control because of the large numbers of people who come to make the Hajj.

14. Geography

Mecca is at an elevation of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, and approximately 80 km (50 mi) inland from the Red Sea.

Central Mecca lies in a corridor between mountains, which is often called the "Hollow of Mecca".

This mountainous location has defined the contemporary expansion of the city:

The city centres on the Masjid al-Haram area, which is lower than most of the city. The area around the mosque is the old city.

As the Saudis expanded the Grand Mosque in the centre of the city, hundreds of houses were replaced by wide avenues and city squares.

Traditional homes are built of local rock and are generally two to three stories.

The total area of Mecca today is over 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi).

In pre-modern Mecca, the city used a few chief sources of water:

The 1st were local wells, such as the Zamzam Well, that produced generally brackish water.

The 2nd source was the spring of Ayn Zubayda. The sources of this spring are the mountains, which are a few kilometres east of Jabal Arafat or about 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Mecca. Water was transported from it using underground channels.

A very sporadic 3rd source was rainfall which was stored by the people in small reservoirs or cisterns.

The rainfall, scant as it is, also presents the threat of flooding and has been a danger since earliest times. According to historians, there had been 89 historic floods by 1965, including several in the Saudi period.

In the last century the most severe flood was in 1942. Since then, dams have been build to ameliorate this problem

15. Climate

Mecca features a hot desert climate.

Like most Saudi Arabian cities, Mecca retains warm to hot temperatures even in winter, which can range from 18 °C (64 °F) at night to 30 °C (86 °F) in the afternoon.

Summer temperatures are extremely 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 scattered between November and January.

16. Landmarks

Mecca houses Al-Haram Mosque, 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 (the Forbidden) or Grand Mosque.

As mentioned above, because of the Wahhabi hostility to reverence being paid to historic and religious buildings, Mecca has lost most of its heritage in recent years and few buildings from the last 1,500 years have survived Saudi rule.

Expansion of the city is on-going and includes the construction of 601 m tall Abraj Al Bait Towers across the street from the Masjid al-Haram:

The towers were the 3rd tallest building in the world when completed in 2012. The construction of the towers involved the demolition of the Ajyad Fortress, which in turn sparked a dispute between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The Zamzam Well is home to a celebrated water spring.

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.

Hirā’ is a cave near Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal an-Nūr (Arabic: "Mountain of Light") in the region of Tihāmah of present-day Saudi Arabia:

It is notable for being the location where Muhammad (ﷺ) received his first revelations from God through the angel Jibrā’īl (Gabriel).

The Qur'an Gate, located on the Jeddah-Mecca Highway, marks the boundary of the area where non-Muslims are prohibited to enter. It is the entrance to Makkah and the birthplace of Muhammad (ﷺ):

The gate was designed in 1979 by an Egyptian architect, Samir Elabd, for the architectural firm IDEA Centre. The structure is that of a book, representing the Qur'an, sitting on a rehal, or book stand.

17. Economy

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."

Income 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 Arabian Peninsula.

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, Saudia, 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.

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.

The few industries operating in Mecca include textiles, furniture, and utensils. The majority of the economy is service-oriented.

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.

18. Health care

Health care is provided by the Saudi government free of charge to all pilgrims. There are 10 hospitals in Mecca. There are also many walk-in clinics available for both residents and pilgrims.

19. Culture

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

As a result of the vast numbers of pilgrims coming to the city each year, Mecca has become by far the most diverse city in the Muslim world.

In contrast to the rest of Saudi Arabia, and particularly Najd, Mecca has, according to The New York Times, become "a striking oasis" of free thought and discussion and, also, of "unlikely liberalism" as "Meccans see themselves as a bulwark against the creeping extremism that has overtaken much Islamic debate".

The first press was brought to Mecca in 1885 by Osman Nuri Pasha (1832-1900), an Ottoman Marshal. During the Hashemite period, it was used to print the city's official gazette, al-Qiblah.

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.

Mecca owns its hometown paper, Al Nadwa.

However, other Saudi and international newspapers are also provided in Mecca such as the Saudi Gazette, Al Madinah, Okaz and Al-Bilad.

Many television stations serving the city area include Saudi TV1, Saudi TV2, Saudi TV Sports, Al-Ekhbariya, Arab Radio and Television Network and various cable, satellite and other specialty television providers.

In pre-modern Mecca the most common sports were impromptu wrestling and foot races.

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 Abdul-Aziz Stadium is the largest stadium in Mecca with capacity of 38,000.

20. Demographics

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. Iyad bin Amin Madani, Saudi Arabia's minister for Hajj, was quoted as saying, "We never stop preparing for the Hajj."

Year-round, pilgrims stream into the city to perform the rites of Umrah, and during the last weeks of Dhu al-Qi'dah, on average 4 million Muslims arrive in the city to take part in the rites known as Hajj.

Pilgrims are from varying ethnicities and backgrounds, mainly Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Many of these pilgrims have remained and become residents of the city. The Burmese are an older, more established community who number roughly 250,000.

Adding to the Hajj-related diversity, the oil-boom of the past 50 years has brought hundreds of thousands of working immigrants.

Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca under Saudi law, and using fraudulent documents to do so may result in arrest and prosecution. The prohibition extends to Ahmadiyyah, as they are considered non-Muslims.

Nevertheless, many non-Muslims and Ahmadis have visited the city:

The first such recorded example of non-Muslims is that of Ludovico di Varthema of Bologna in 1503. Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikhism, visited Mecca in December 1518.

One of the most famous was Richard Francis Burton, who travelled as a Qadiriyya Sufi from Afghanistan in 1853.

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

"O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean;
so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque."

21. Education

Formal education started to be developed in the late Ottoman period continuing slowly into and Hashemite times.

The first major attempt to improve the situation was made by a Jeddah merchant, Muhammad Alī Zaynal Riḍā, who founded the Madrasat al-Falāḥ in Mecca in 1911–12 that cost £400,000.

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.

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.

For higher education, the city has only one university, Umm Al-Qurā University, which was established in 1949 as a college and became a public university in 1979.

22. Transportation

23. Air

Mecca has only the small Mecca East Airport with no airline service, so Mecca is served by King Abdul-Aziz International Airport located at Jeddah, about 100 kilometres from the city centre.

To cater the large number of Hajj pilgrims, this airport has a specifically built Hajj terminal which can accommodate 47 planes simultaneously and it can receive 3,800 pilgrims per hour during the Hajj season.

24. Rail

Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro is a metro line in Mecca opened in 13 November 2010:

This 18.1 kilometre elevated metro transports pilgrims to holy sites Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina in the city during Hajj reducing the congestion on the roads. It only operates for 7 days a year.

25. Mecca Metro

Mecca Metro, officially known as Makkah Mass Rail Transit, is a planned 4-line metro system for the city. This will be in addition to the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro which carries pilgrims during Hajj.

26. Intercity

A high speed inter-city rail line (Haramain High Speed Rail Project also known as the "Western Railway"), is under construction in Saudi Arabia:

It will link along 444 kilometres (276 mi), the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdul-Aziz International Airport.

This rail line is planned to provide a safe and comfortable transport in 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph) electric trains in-turn reducing the travel time to less than 2 hours between Mecca and Medina. It will be built by a business consortium from Spain.

27. Roads

Some of the intercity highways which connects the city of Mecca are:

=> Highway 40 (Saudi Arabia) – connects Jeddah to Mecca and Mecca to Dammam.
=> Highway 15 (Saudi Arabia) – connects Ta’if to Mecca and Mecca to Medina.