Saudi Arabia is weaning itself off from oil-dependency and religious pilgrimages are a big part of the plan. The revenue that Saudi Arabia generates from oil could be replaced by tourism. Mecca is one of Saudi Arabia's most visited cities because of its religious significance. During the annual Hajj, a five-day pilgrimage, around 2 million people travel to Mecca. Year-round pilgrims also visit Mecca to perform Umrah, a separate pilgrimage that can take place any time of the year.
From transportation projects to real estate deals with commercial chains, the face of Mecca and other holy cities is changing at a rapid pace that many locals are not prepared for. By improving services and infrastructure available to pilgrims, Saudi Arabia hopes to embrace the change and double its number of annual visitors.