Hajj and Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia may be well known for its oil reserves and precarious geographic location, but the Islamic faith defines the country far more than any other quality. While it may appear to be an absolute monarchy, the country runs as near to a theocracy as it can in the modern world. The real Saudi Arabian ruler is Allah. This is evidenced in every aspect of Saudi Arabian life, even down to their tourism industry. While other countries rely on stunning natural views, impressive shopping districts, or relaxing beaches, Saudi Arabia has proven itself the pinnacle of religious tourism. Hajj, an Islamic ritual journey to Mecca required for every capable Muslim, brings “roughly 3 million Muslims” (Long) to the Saudi Arabian desert annually. Saudi Arabians “feel deeply honored to be host to those millions of the faithful who perform it each year and responsible for their safety and welfare while they are carrying out their religious obligations” (Long). Hajj requires extensive preparation by the Saudi Arabian government, but they pay off in the end.
The most glaring infrastructure need of Hajj comes in the form of transportation. Not only must millions get to Mecca at the same time, they then must carry out multiple traditions alongside each other for nearly a week. The modern world has made Hajj accessible to millions, perhaps billions more than could have completed the rite even one hundred years ago. Though once camels were the main form of hajji transportation, now King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah ferries the majority of these religious tourists. “There are huge terminals made specifically for pilgrims coming to Mecca” (Alcantara). Just this year, Saudi Arabian airline Saudia introduced a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to the dese...

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