I was eager to answer your question as I was curious about this
myself. I also picked up some facts about Islam that I didn't know
Annually, the Saudi Arabian government issues Hajj visas to foreign
Muslims who wish to make the obligatory, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage
to Mecca. In 2005, the Saudis issued 1.2 million Hajj visas. In
addition to these visitors from abroad, Saudi nationals participate in
the Hajj. This year the total number of pilgrims, foreign and
national, gathered in Mecca was 2 million.
Faithful Muslims may also make a lesser pilgrimage called Umrah, which
can be performed at any time. This year, according to the Saudi
Foreign Minister, 2.6 million Umrah visas were issued for the entire
Islamic calendar year.
The largest number of Umrah pilgrims go to Mecca during the last week
of Ramadan. Agence France Presse reported that Ramadan visitors this
year numbered 1.5 million, although an Islamic blogger reported 2+
Thus it would seem that there are more Hajj than Ramadan visitors, and
it can be estimated that the difference is about half a million
How many visitors to Mecca in 2005: the Saudi government issued 1.2
million Hajj visas and 2.6 million Umrah visas. This adds up to 3.8
million visits, but may add up to fewer visitors as the same person
could have both visas in one year.
How many during Hajj in 2005: 1.2 million foreign visitors and
approximately 800,000 Saudis.
How many during Ramadan in 2005: 1.5 to 2 million.
I hope this answers your question.
All the best,
Clarification of Answer by
06 Nov 2005 11:46 PST
I found figures for Hajj 2003 and 2004.
In 2003 there were 2 million Hajj pilgrims (1.5 million foreigners
and 500,000 Saudis) reported by CBS news
In 2004 there were 1.8 million (1.3 from abroad, 500,000 Saudis.
For Ramadan in 2003, Agence France Presse was quoted as reporting up
to 2.5 million visitors, foreign and local.
I found only one reference for Ramadan in 2004, one that I consider a
"soft" estimate. You can judge for yourself as it is an expected
figure and the source is not given.
"from the October 29, 2004 edition -
The next day my 14-year-old daughter wants to go to Mecca for a minor
pilgrimage, or umra, with her girlfriends. An umra during Ramadan,
according to Islamic scholars, is the equivalent of, but does not take
place of, hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. More than 1.5
million Muslims are expected to converge on Mecca this Ramadan."
All the best,