"Ahlan wa Sahlan! Welcome to Saudi Arabia!" LauraofArabia's Profile
Mekkah is an ancient city with a history going back to Pre-Islamic times. It is the location of an ancient alter, believed to have been buit by the Prophet Ibrahim, to worship the one true God. People from all over the Arabian Peninsula would come here once a year to make a pilgrimage. When they came, all tribal battles would be left behind. Makkah was a city of trade. Arab traders would sell their spices, perfumes, rugs and trinkets. Poetry was an important pass time. Today Makkah is open only to Muslims, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city. Millions of pilgrims, from all corners of the world come here each year to perform the annual Hajj ritual.
The Grand Mosque contains the Kaaba - an alter built by the Prophet Ibrahim to worship the one true God. In Pre-Islamic times, it was used to house idols of the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. Once a year, during the Hajj, pilgrims from Arabia would set aside their disagreements and meet in Makkah, perform the religious rituals and sell their wares. Today, the Kaaba is at the heart of Islam. Five times a day, Muslims from all corners of the world face Makkah five times a day in ritual prayer. It is the duty of all Muslims to make a pilgrimage to the city of Makkah at least one time in their life - health and means permitting. Throughout the year, Muslims will visit the Grand Mosque to perform Umrah - the Lesser Hajj. The Umrah can be performed any time throughout the year. It consists of two rituals. The first ritual is Tawwaf - circumambulating the Kaaba seven times. The pilgrim will pray two rakas' and proceed to the Masaa' to perform the second ritual Sai'. Sai' consists of running seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa. After concluding the Umrah, pilgrims will drink water from the blessed well of ZamZam.
During the Hajj, Muslim pilgrims visit the city of Mina. Mina is known as the tent city with white tents stretching as far as the eye can see. During their stay in Mina, pilgrims will throw 49 stones at the 3 pillars representing satan.
Jabal Rahma means Mountain of Mercy in Arabic. It is here where the Prophet Muhammad gave his farewell speech. Today there is a carnival atmosphere complete with camel rides. Muslim pilgrims will climb the mountain or walk around it.
Yanbu Al-Sanaeya is a modern , industrial town located on the shore of the Red Sea. It was built approx. 40 years ago. Many oil, gas and petro-chemical companies are found here. Everything was built to American specifications. It feels a lot like Arizona. There is a beautiful seaside park.
Rijal al Maa is a hidden treasure, well off the beaten path. From Abha, take As Souda road, turn left near the telefreek and follow the deep road to Rijal al Maa. The "Deep" Road provides a hair-raising trip with breath-taking scenery. Upon asking directions, an old local man asked "What do you want to see there?" Obviously, he had never been! If you like old, Arabian architecture you will be charmed by the 400 year old houses at Rijal al Maa.
Just an hours drive away from Makkah, Al-Hada provides a pleasant break from the scorching heat. Al-Hada is located in the mountains. As you ascend, you will see the baboons. Make sure not to get to close, they bite!
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