Mecca, also known as ‘Makkah’, is Islam’s holiest city located in Saudi Arabia. Such high importance of the city can be associated with it being the birthplace of holy prophet Mohammed who was the founder of Islam. The holiest site within the city is the Great Mosque within which sits the black stone, a large central monolith that is central to worship during hajj. However, Saudi is closed to tourists and Mecca itself is off-limits to non-Muslims. To mix in with fellow pilgrims, you must be dressed appropriately and that will come only when you know what to wear in Mecca.
Weather of Mecca
Mecca lies in Saudi Arabia and about 50 miles from Red Sea. Like rest of Saudi Arabia, Mecca faces an extremely arid climate. But, unlike other cities of the country, it maintains its warm temperature in winter months.
Summer – No matter what heat tolerance quotient you have, Saudi summers will drain you out. From March until October, it is better you avoid visiting it, and especially in Mecca the average temperatures of 39 degrees rise up to 41 degrees and above. The heat relents only after September starts to approach. There is also a complete absence of water or rainfall in the interior regions. Humidity around coastal regions will also play a spoilsport in your vacation.
Winter – Winter from November until April brings relief from the intense and scorching heat of summers, but it is still hot. The average temperature in Mecca drops down to 33 degrees Celsius in November and further to 29 degrees by January. Red Sea coastal area also experiences almost similar weather patterns as Mecca, but with a variation of at least 5 degrees which can actually come as a relief. However, other regions of the country can experience temperature below freezing, such as Jeddah, but Mecca maintains its warm temperature in winters, too. Days are cloudy, too, with a drop in sunshine levels.
What to Wear and How to Pack for Mecca?
Before you start packing with the usual stuff, remember that Mecca is a religious place and considered to be the holiest of all. You must pack clothes that do not offend or disrespect people. Here are some suggestions:
Women – While visiting the Great Mosque, you will be required to wear what is considered appropriate for all women. You will be supposed to wear simple white garments, commonly called ihram. This is basically a simple white dress and a headscarf which is a symbol of purity and equality and stands for the pilgrims’ state of devotion. It is best to avoid western wear altogether, even when not on Hajj. You could go for the native dress of Saudi. Apart from the abiyah, you can go for warmer clothes during the night.
Men – Men, too, have to don the simple white dress known as ihram. For men, it consists of a cover from waist down and another one gathered round the shoulders. It could get cold during winters, so a jacket is suggested. Trousers and shirts can be worn at night along with sweaters and jackets.
Kids – Kids, too, will have to go for the same white dress and something to wear at night and winter wear such as jackets and sweaters.
Footwear – Carry comfortable footwear which are strong and can be removed easily. Anything that could make you trip, like heels and laces, is best avoided.
Accessories – This is one area where you will need to know what to take and what to keep aside. First of all, a lot of things are forbidden, such as nail paints, jewellery, deodorants, and cologne. In fact, hair and nails are also to be left in their natural state, i.e., no cutting. Make-up is also not permitted and photography at holy place is also prohibited.
Coming to things that you will need: Carry basic medical supplies and toiletries as most of the pilgrims do catch some sort of virus. You will have to sleep on the mattresses on ground, so carry a fleece blanket or a sleeping bag. Carry a small bag to keep your stuff with you and a money belt to be worn round the waist for men as petty pick pocketing is common in crowded areas.