STOCK hotel room
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Cairo: As part of an inspection campaign to verify hospitality facilities’ compliance with rules, 59 hotels were recently shut down in the Saudi city of Medina due to violations, according to a media report.

The closures will remain in effect until those facilities rectify their status and obtain licences required for operation, Saudi newspaper Okaz said.

The Ministry of Tourism warned against running hospitality places without licences. The breach is punishable by shutdown or a fine of SR1 million or both penalties.

The inspections were mounted by the Ministry of Tourism in Medina where 1,251 different violations were detected as part of the “Our Guests Top Priorities” campaign with the aim of regulating the sector and upgrading services rendered to guests.

The latest closures come in the run-up to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, usually a peak season for worshippers heading to Saudi Arabia, Islam’s birthplace.

Last month, Saudi media reported that tourism authorities had shut down a total of 330 hotels and furnished apartments over violations in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, two major destinations for the Muslim faithful.

Saudi Arabia aims to attract 150 million tourists by the year 2030 as part of an ambitious scheme to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

Millions of Muslims from inside and outside Saudi Arabia flock every year to the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred site, in Mecca to perform Umrah or minor pilgrimage and offer prayers.

After Umrah, many pilgrims would head to the Prophet’s Mosque, Islam’s second holiest place, in Medina.

The Prophet’s Mosque houses Al Rawda Al Sharifa where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is located.

Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad during the current Umrah season that began more than seven months ago amid facilities for overseas pilgrims.