The Growth of the Hajj

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Map Code: Ax01255

The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca occurs during the last month of the Islamic calendar and, as one of the five pillars of Islam, is a journey every Muslim should make at least once during their lifetime. With the advent of modern technologies, particularly cheap air travel, the number of foreign pilgrims making the Hajj each year has increased enormously from 58,584 in 1920 to the recent peak of 1,752,932 in 2012. The majority of these pilgrims come from countries closest to Mecca, however high per capita income appears to be the best predictor for participation rates in individual countries. The Saudi Arabian government has even started to introduce quotas to keep visitor numbers from individual countries at acceptable levels. With the vast increase of yearly visitors to Mecca, the Saudi Arabian government has invested huge amounts of money to accommodate and capitalize on the pilgrimage which, in recent years, has brought $8 billion to the Saudi economy annually.

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