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Abstract

The great Islamic pilgrimage (Hajj) to the Holy places in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is considered one of the largest annual mass confluences of people in the world. Hajj takes at least four-days and attracts more than three million pilgrims who perform specific steps to fulfil the requirements of this unique journey. However, Hajj presents an extraordinary challenge to the Saudi government for ensuring safety during such a large-scale mass gathering, and stakeholders are overwhelmed by managing the logistics of this event. Despite prior studies’ efforts to explore attitudes towards pilgrimage safety, and to investigate ways to minimise carbon footprints on the environment, research on how to move towards greening this massive event is scarce. Hence, this paper provides a holistic overview of the challenges facing the Saudi government and involved stakeholders towards achieving the greening of this pilgrimage. This exploratory study uses a qualitative approach; data were collected via a semi-structured interview, six focus groups, and participant observation (on-site observation) in the city of Makkah during the Hajj season of 2018. Results show that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah put various elements in place, such as recycling, solid waste management, and environmental protection. However, limited communication among stakeholders involved in the event makes it difficult to go further in achieving green goals. In this study, opportunities and challenges for green pilgrimage are divided into seven main groups: initiatives towards green pilgrimage, waste management, energy efficiency and transportation, greening water resources, greening food, green rituals, and promoting green awareness. A framework of action for developing sustainable green pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia is suggested and also, implications for the Saudi government and stakeholders are discussed in the light of extant literature. Recommendations are provided for better application of green pilgrimage initiatives in Saudi Arabia, with a particular focus on the Holy City of Makkah.

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.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.21427/69x1-d516

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