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Abstract

Every year, millions of Muslim worshippers visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj which is the fifth and last pillar of Islam. In 2018, Mecca hosted more than 2,300,000 people from around 183 different countries and cultures. Based on the objective of Vision 2030 of the Saudi Arabian government, the number of pilgrims was planned to grow to 2.5 million in 2020, and the rate of increase was projected to be 13% per year. This goal, however, has not been achieved due to Covid-19. The pandemic forced the government to severely reduce the number of pilgrims in 2020 to 10,000. Ultimately, this situation will not last forever and visitor numbers should continue to rise.

Tourism, especially religious tourism such as the Hajj, is expected to boost the economy and create new jobs for Saudi youth in the services sector. Yet, despite the many benefits of pilgrimage, the Hajj itself has adverse environmental impacts. The activities of the Hajj generate considerable solid and liquid waste, use large quantities of scarce fresh water and produce high levels of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emissions. This paper provides an overview of the environmental impacts created by Hajj 2018 activities and estimates carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) emissions from municipal solid wastes, travel (air and land) and electricity generation (accommodation and fresh water desalination), using a range of estimation techniques based on data collected across the different Hajj activities. These findings indicate environmental impacts of the Hajj are significant, highlighting the need for action to improve environmental sustainability.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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