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20 April 2024

Ramadan: Holiest cities Makkah, Madinah flooded with Umrah visitors

UNB

Published: 17:04, 15 March 2024

Update: 17:05, 15 March 2024

Ramadan: Holiest cities Makkah, Madinah flooded with Umrah visitors

The Kaaba with surrounding colonnades and minarets, pre-Islamic monument, rededicated by Muhammad in 631–32 C.E., multiple renovations, Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Photo: marviikad

Muslim devotees from across the world are coming into Saudi Arabia in large numbers taking advantage of the holy month of Ramadan contributing to huge crowd at the two holiest cities- Makkah and Madinah.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is witnessing a growing number of Umrah pilgrims from countries around the world, including from Bangladesh, since the beginning of Ramadan.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, offers the best weather, and this holy month, dedicated to prayer, self-reflection, and religious devotion, also traditionally marks the peak season to perform Umrah.

Though Makkah is well-known for its excessive hot days, surprisingly, this March offers a pleasant weather.

Thousands of Muslim devotees offered their Jummah prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah on Friday (March 15), the first Jummah of Ramadan.

All the floors of the Grand Mosque and its adjacent courtyards were full of devotees, and the rows of devotees spilled over to the streets of the Central Haram area.

Many of the Muslims offered Jummah from their respective hotels, which are connected with the Grand Mosque through audio transmission.

Meanwhile, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman approved hosting 1,000 Umrah pilgrims from countries around the world during the year 2024.

The guests representing the fourth and final batch of 2024, which includes 250 prominent Islamic Umrah pilgrims, male and female, representing 16 countries from the continents of Europe and Asia, are visitng the kingdom to perform Umrah.

Ramadan: Holiest cities Makkah, Madinah flooded with Umrah visitors

Muslim devotees from across the world are coming into Saudi Arabia in large numbers taking advantage of the holy month of Ramadan contributing to huge crowd at the two holiest cities- Makkah and Madinah.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is witnessing a growing number of Umrah pilgrims from countries around the world, including from Bangladesh, since the beginning of Ramadan.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, offers the best weather, and this holy month, dedicated to prayer, self-reflection, and religious devotion, also traditionally marks the peak season to perform Umrah.

Though Makkah is well-known for its excessive hot days, surprisingly, this March offers a pleasant weather.

Thousands of Muslim devotees offered their Jummah prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah on Friday (March 15), the first Jummah of Ramadan.

All the floors of the Grand Mosque and its adjacent courtyards were full of devotees, and the rows of devotees spilled over to the streets of the Central Haram area.

Many of the Muslims offered Jummah from their respective hotels, which are connected with the Grand Mosque through audio transmission.

Meanwhile, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman approved hosting 1,000 Umrah pilgrims from countries around the world during the year 2024.

The guests representing the fourth and final batch of 2024, which includes 250 prominent Islamic Umrah pilgrims, male and female, representing 16 countries from the continents of Europe and Asia, are visitng the kingdom to perform Umrah.

Islamic scholars, journalists, students, and influencers like the founder and CEO of 10 Minute School, Ayman Sadiq; and author, speaker, English teacher Munzereen Shahid are among the Bangladesh delegation members.

"To be honest, I feel so lucky. I knew about the stories of these historical places. Now I had the opportunity to see in my own eyes," said Munzereen Shahid.

She said there is no language barrier or cultural divide here.

"I see an extraordinary unity among people. I have a desire to come again," said Munzereen who performed her first Umrah together with her husband Ayman Sadiq.

"Had the honor of visiting the King Fahd Quran Printing Complex in Madinah, where millions of copies of the Holy Quran are printed every year. Madinah is peaceful," Ayman shared his experience of visiting the historic place in Madinah before performing Umrah.

Talking to UNB, Musa Takai from New Zealand said, "It is quite unimaginable. I am grateful to Almighty Allah first and then to the Royal family for giving us this opportunity to perform Umrah."

​Musa expressed his sincere thanks and great appreciation to the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques and the crown prince for graciously hosting him to perform Umrah.

He added that the kingdom always provides care and attention to the guests of Allah providing integrated services and stressed that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Umrah and Visitation Program is a wonderful model.

Apart from the guests, many Bangladeshis are coming to Saudi Arabia this Ramadan on their personal arrangements to perform Umrah.

"My mother, mother-in-law and my younger sister, we are travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. This journey is not only important for us personally, but it's also a beautiful testament to our faith and devotion to Allah," said Ferdous Ahmed, MP.

He said they are looking forward to spend8ng time in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, praying, fasting, and reconnecting with their faith.

"It would mean the world to us if you could keep us in your prayers. We will be carrying your love and support with us as we embark on this special journey. Please pray for us," said the popular actor-turned-parliamentarian.

Revelation Exhibition in Makkah Al-Mukarramah

Guests of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, including Bangladesh delegation members, visited the "Revelation Gallery" located in the “Hira” Cultural District in the holy capital.

During their tour, they visited various exhibition halls on the stories and witnessed the great features of the story of the revelation to the Prophet, learned about some of what is related to the story of the revelation, such as the Cave of Hira.

The guests praised the exhibition and the great aspects it represents related to the story of the revelation of the Prophet Muhammad.

They appreciated the role of the programme, stressing that the great interest paid by the leadership of this blessed country is not strange to them, as the kingdom is based on caring for Islam and Muslims.

The delegation visited Quba Mosque, King Fahad Complex for printing the holy Quran, Shuhada and Mount Uhud, international exhibition, and museum of the Prophet's Biography and Islamic Civilisation.

Growing Number of Tourists

Saudi Arabia topped the UN Tourism’s ranking for the growth of international tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019 among large destinations, achieving an increase of 56% in international tourist arrivals compared to 2019, according to the World Tourism Barometer report released recently.

Moreover, the report also indicates Saudi Arabia recording a remarkable tourism recovery rate of 156% in international tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019.

These significant achievements in the tourism sector have positioned Saudi Arabia as a leader in the Middle East region's global tourism recovery, which was the only region to surpass pre- “Covid-19” pandemic levels with a 122% recovery rate in international tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019, according to Saudi Tourism Ministry.

Various tourist destinations within the kingdom witnessed a significant increase in both domestic and inbound visitors in 2023.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia set a record in international tourist receipts, with total spending exceeding SAR 100 billion for the first three quarters of 2023, according to Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) balance of payments.

The Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb unveiled a programme recently that will significantly boost the country’s fast-growing tourism sector.

The ambitious Tourism Investment Enabler Program (TIEP) aims to make it easier and more cost-effective to do business in Saudi tourism for international and local investors to prosper in one of the most competitive tourism investment environments in the world with multiple initiatives.

The number of pilgrims who have performed Umrah during the year 2023 reached a record number of 13.55 million.

The increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims is estimated at five million or 58 per cent while compared to the year 2019.

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