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Mecca (//; officially Makkah al-Mukarramah, commonly shortened to Makkah) is the capital of Mecca Province in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia and the holiest city in Islam. It is 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah on the Red Sea, in a narrow valley 277 m (909 ft) above sea level. Its last recorded population was 1,578,722 in 2015. Its estimated metropolitan population in 2020 is 2.042 million, making it the third-most populated city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and Jeddah. Pilgrims more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj pilgrimage, observed in the twelfth Hijri month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.
|Makkah al-Mukarramah (مكة المكرمة)|
|Governorate||Holy Capital Governorate|
|• Mayor||Saleh Al-Turki|
|• Provincial Governor||Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud|
|• Total||1,200 km2 (500 sq mi)|
|• Land||760 km2 (290 sq mi)|
|Elevation||277 m (909 ft)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||3rd in Saudi Arabia|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (AST)|
Mecca is generally considered "the fountainhead and cradle of Islam". Mecca is revered in Islam as the birthplace of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Hira cave atop the Jabal al-Nur ("Mountain of Light"), just outside the city, is where Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. Visiting Mecca for the Ḥajj is an obligation upon all able Muslims. The Great Mosque of Mecca, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is home to the Ka'bah, believed by Muslims to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael. It is Islam's holiest site and the direction of prayer (qibla) for all Muslims worldwide.
Muslim rulers from in and around the region long tried to take the city and keep it in their control, and thus, much like most of the Hejaz region, the city has seen several regime changes. The city was most recently conquered in the Saudi conquest of Hejaz by Ibn Saud and his allies in 1925. Since then, Mecca has seen a tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure, with newer, modern buildings such as the Abraj Al Bait, the world's fourth-tallest building and third-largest by floor area, towering over the Great Mosque. The Saudi government has also carried out the destruction of several historical structures and archaeological sites, such as the Ajyad Fortress. Non-Muslims are strictly prohibited from entering the city.
Under the Saudi government, Mecca is governed by the Mecca Regional Municipality, a municipal council of 14 locally elected members headed by the mayor (called Amin in Arabic) appointed by the Saudi government. In 2015, the mayor of the city was Osama bin Fadhel Al-Barr; as of January 2022[update], the mayor is Saleh Al-Turki. The City of Mecca amanah, which constitutes Mecca and the surrounding region, is the capital of the Mecca Province, which includes the neighbouring cities of Jeddah and Ta'if, even though Jeddah is considerably larger in population compared to Mecca. The Provincial Governor of the province from 16 May 2007 was Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud.
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