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Heat Could Cool Hajj Plans; Climate May Affect Plans
The Saudi Arabian government plans to attract millions more pilgrims to Islam's holiest sites. But as climate change heats up an already scorching region, the annual Hajj pilgrimage – much of which takes place outdoors in the desert – could prove even more daunting.
A surge in international air travel and infrastructure expansion associated with pilgrimage raises sustainability concerns, despite the oil giant's goal of obtaining half its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Saudi Arabia will host the first Hajj pilgrimage without the restrictions imposed during the Coronavirus pandemic next week. Some 2.5 million people took part in the pilgrimage in 2019, and around 2 million are expected this year.
The Hajj and Umrah - a small, year-round pilgrimage - would be included in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to overhaul the kingdom's economy. That would be an increase of more than 10 million from pre-pandemic levels. It will require a vast expansion of hotels and other infrastructure in Makkah and Madinah, ancient cities already largely obliterated by high-rises and shopping malls. Adding pilgrims will require more long-distance flights.
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