Mecca Grand Mosque saudi Arabia
Muslims clad in white Umrah robes gather around the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Image Credit: The General Authority for Care and Management of the Two Holy Mosques

Cairo: More than 220 violations have been registered by tourism authorities against hospitality facilities in the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina, major destinations for Muslims during the current month of Ramadan.

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism has intensified inspection tours of hospitality facilities in both cities, home to Islam’s two holiest sites, in the final part of Ramadan, which is expected to end on April 9 depending on spotting the new moon.

More than 900 such inspection tours were made in the past days of the month in Mecca where 164 violations of rules were detected, including 140 due to poor quality services and 24 for operating without a licence.

In Medina, tourism inspectors made more than 210 tours during which 60 violations were registered including 54 related to the provision of substandard services and six others for operating without a licence.

The ministry said that its operating chambers in Mecca and Medina receive complaints associated with hospitality facilities and tourism services round the clock during Ramadan.

A complaint is addressed within 24 hours of receiving it, the ministry added.

Ramadan usually marks the peak season of Umrah or lesser pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, particularly in the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Saudi authorities have maximised efforts to cope with the influx of worshippers at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site.

As part of efforts to ease congestion at the Grand Mosque, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised pilgrims to heed patterns of cooperative behaviour. They include avoiding peak times, using public transport instead of private cars, and shifting to other mosques in Mecca to perform prayers when the Grand Mosque is thronged.

After performing Umrah, many pilgrims would head to Medina to offer prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque and visit other Islamic landmarks in the city.