Hajj Pilgrimage Statistics

Statistics of the Hajj Islamic pilgrimage

The pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) is one of the required "pillars" of Islam for those who can afford the journey, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Muslims.  The responsibility for organizing this massive gathering falls on the government of Saudi Arabia. Over a period of a few weeks, intensified over a mere five days, the government hosts over 2 million people in one ancient city. This is a huge logistical undertaking, and the Saudi government has dedicated an entire government Ministry to provide for the pilgrims and ensure their safety.  As of the 2013 pilgrimage season, here are some of the statistics:

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1,379,500 International Pilgrims

The Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is surrounded by hotels used to house Hajj pilgrims and other visitors. Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images

The number of pilgrims arriving from other lands has multiplied exponentially in recent years, from as few as 24,000 in 1941. However in 2013, restrictions were put in place that limited the number of pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia, due to ongoing construction at the holy sites, and concerns about the potential spread of the MERS virus. International pilgrims work with local agents in their home countries to arrange for travel. Pilgrims now mainly arrive by air, although several thousand arrive by land or sea each year.

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800,000 Local Pilgrims

Pilgrims block the street in Arafat
Pilgrims block the street in Arafat, near Makkah, in 2005. Abid Katib/Getty Images

From within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Muslims must apply for a permit to perform Hajj, which is only granted once every five years due to space limitations. In 2013, local officials turned away over 30,000 pilgrims who tried to enter the pilgrimage areas without a permit.

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188 Countries

Muslim pilgrims travel near Arafat on top of a bus, during the Hajj in 2006. Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images

Pilgrims come from around the world, of all ages, with varying levels of education, material resources, and health needs. Saudi officials interact with pilgrims who speak dozens of different languages.

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20,760,000 Liters of Zamzam Water

Man carrying zamzam water
A man carries a gallon of Zamzam water in Makkah, 2005. Abid Katib/Getty Images

The mineral water from the well of Zamzam has been flowing for thousands of years, and is believed to have medicinal properties. Zamzam water is distributed by cup in the pilgrimage areas, in small (330 ml) water bottles, medium-sized (1.5 liter) water bottles, and in larger 20-liter containers for pilgrims to carry home with them.

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45,000 Tents

Tents in the Plain of Arafat
The tent city in the Plain of Arafat is home to millions of Muslim pilgrims during the Hajj. Huda, About.com Guide to Islam

Mina, located 12 kilometers outside Makkah, is known as the Hajj tent city. The tents house pilgrims for a few days of the pilgrimage; at other times of the year it lays bare and abandoned. The tents are neatly arranged in rows and grouped into areas labeled with numbers and colors according to nationality. Pilgrims each have badges with their assigned number and color to help find the way back if they get lost. To resist fire, the tents are constructed of fiberglass coated with Teflon, and are fitted with sprinklers and fire extinguishers. The tents are air-conditioned and carpeted, with a hall of 12 bathroom stalls for every 100 pilgrims.

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18,000 Officers

Security guards on duty in Makkah, Saudi Arabia during the 2005 Hajj pilgrimage season. Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images

Civil defense and emergency personnel are visible throughout the pilgrimage sites. Their job is to direct the flow of pilgrims, assure their safety, and assist those who are lost or in need of medical assistance.

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200 Ambulances

Hajj 2009 Health Guidelines
Saudi Arabia is implementing health guidelines for the 2009 Hajj, to help prevent the spread of H1N1 (swine flu). Muhannad Fala'ah / Getty Images

Pilgrim health needs are met at 150 permanent and seasonal health facilities throughout the holy sites, with over 5,000 hospital beds, staffed by over 22,000 doctors, paramedics, nurses, and administrative personnel. Emergency patients are immediately cared for and transported, if needed, by ambulance to one of several nearby hospitals. The Ministry of Health stores 16,000 units of blood to treat patients.

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5,000 Security Cameras

Pilgrims move toward
Pilgrims move toward the site of "jamarat," the symbolic stoning of the devil, during the Hajj. Samia El-Moslimany/Saudi Aramco World/PADIA

The high-tech command center for Hajj security monitors security cameras throughout the holy sites, including 1,200 at the Grand Mosque itself.

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700 Kilograms of Silk

Silk, along with 120 kilograms of silver and gold thread, are used to make the black covering of the Ka'aba, called the Kiswa. The Kiswa is hand-made in a Makkah factory by 240 workers, at a cost of 22 million SAR (USD $5.87 million) each year. It is replaced annually during the Hajj pilgrimage; the retired Kiswa is cut into pieces to be given as gifts to guests, dignitaries, and museums.

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770,000 Sheep and Goats

goatseid.jpg
Goats are lined up for sale at a livestock market in Indonesia during Eid Al-Adha. Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

At the end of Hajj, pilgrims celebrate Eid Al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice). Sheep, goats, and even cows and camels are slaughtered, and the meat distributed to the poor. To reduce wastage, the Islamic Development Bank organizes the slaughter for Hajj pilgrims, and packages the meat for distribution to poor Islamic nations around the world.