Friday, September 27, 2019

16 Thousand Flights to Mecca

Every year millions of Muslims around the world fly to Mecca to perform the Hajj. The Hajj is the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. It is something that every Muslim must do at least once in their lifetime, if they are capable.

Flying to Hajj is an interactive story map by Al Jazeera which visualizes and explores the 16,888 flights made to Mecca during this annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The map shows the thousands of flights from all around the world which converge on Mecca during the  Hajj.

To reach Mecca pilgrims fly to Jeddah, the nearest airport which is 80 km from Mecca. Alternatively pilgrims fly to Medina to visit the Prophet's mosque at al-Masjid an-Nabawi, before then completing the 450 km trip south to Mecca. The Flying to Hajj map visualizes over 10 million individual GPS co-ordinates from all inbound flights to Jeddah and Medina over the Hajj period. On the map you can view the tracks of individual planes arriving from all around the world as they approach and land at Jeddah and Medina.

The country with the most flights to Jeddah and Medina during the Hajj was Egypt, with 1,618 flights. The UAE, Pakistan, Turkey and India, in that order, sent the next most flights to Mecca. The top three airlines (by number of flights) were Saudia, Turkish Airlines and EgyptAir. In order to avoid overcrowding the Saudi government actually allocates the number of visitors permitted from each country. This number is mostly determined by the number of Muslims in each country.

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