RELIGION

Mecca Will Soon Be Home To The World's Largest Hotel

Mecca resembles a luxury tourist destination more every year, and soon it will have a massive, 44-story hotel to prove it.

The holy city welcomed more than 2 million Muslims from around the world in 2013 for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which falls on the eighth day of the month of Dhul Al-Hijjah in the Muslim calendar and is one of the five pillars of Islam. To accomodate the growing number of pilgrims, Mecca has undergone major construction over the decades. And in 2017, it will be home to the world's largest hotel by room count.

Funded by the Saudi Ministry of Finance and designed by Dar Al-Handasah, the mixed-use Abraj Kudai hotel complex will house 12 towers, a shopping mall, a convention center and restaurants and lounges. There are even helipads for those guests arriving in style, and five floors of each tower will be reserved for the Saudi royal family and other VIP guests.

Each tower will hold approximately 1,200 luxury rooms measuring roughly 45 square meters, according to Dar Al-Handasah's website, and the entire hotel will house 10,000 rooms. Once the complex is complete, CNN notes the next-largest hotel by room size will be the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas with 6,198 rooms.

London-based design firm Areen Hospitality is in charge of decking out the interior spaces of the hotel, and guests will be able to choose between 4-star and 5-star accommodations, according to Arabian Business.

The Abraj Kudai project will cost more than $3.5 billion to build and is scheduled to open in 2017, The Guardian reports. It will cover 1.4 million square meters just one mile south of Mecca's Grand Mosque.

The Grand Mosque, the focal point of the pilgrimage, is in the process of a steady expansion to increase its capacity and improve security, lighting, drainage and various amenities. Some worry that Mecca's transformation will compromise the city's sacred legacy.

“The city is turning into Mecca-hattan,” Irfan Al-Alawi, director of the UK-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told The Guardian. “Everything has been swept away to make way for the incessant march of luxury hotels, which are destroying the sanctity of the place and pricing normal pilgrims out.”

Scroll down to witness how Mecca has changed throughout the years:

  • <strong>Pilgrims in 1920 at the Kaaba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the most sacred site in the Islamic religion.</strong>
    Culture Club via Getty Images
    Pilgrims in 1920 at the Kaaba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the most sacred site in the Islamic religion.
  • <strong>Mecca's great mosque, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 1922. </strong>
    Getty Images
    Mecca's great mosque, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 1922.
  • <strong>Circa 1935: Aerial view of the Mecca with the porticoes which surround the Ka'bah.</strong>
    Getty Images
    Circa 1935: Aerial view of the Mecca with the porticoes which surround the Ka'bah.
  • <strong>The Kaaba in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, March 21, 1967. </strong>
    Getty Images
    The Kaaba in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, March 21, 1967.
  • <strong>The Kaaba in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, circa 1979.</strong>
    Keystone via Getty Images
    The Kaaba in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, circa 1979.
  • <strong>A picture dated May 1988 shows Muslim pilgrims during the Hajj in Mecca.</strong>
    STR via Getty Images
    A picture dated May 1988 shows Muslim pilgrims during the Hajj in Mecca.
  • <strong> Aerial view of the holy Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca March 17, 2000.</strong>
    MARWAN NAAMANI via Getty Images
    Aerial view of the holy Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca March 17, 2000.
  • <strong>Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims throng Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest shrine, late on Dec. 11, 2001,
    MAHMOUD MAHMOUD/AFP/Getty Images
    Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims throng Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest shrine, late on Dec. 11, 2001, to mark the 27th night of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, known as Lailat al-Qadr.
  • <strong>Muslims pray on Jan. 23, 2004, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca ahead of the hajj, which begins on Jan.
    AWAD AWAD via Getty Images
    Muslims pray on Jan. 23, 2004, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca ahead of the hajj, which begins on Jan. 30.
  • <strong>Muslim pilgrims pray around the holist Al-Ka'aba mosque Jan. 14, 2005, in Mecca.</strong>
    Abid Katib via Getty Images
    Muslim pilgrims pray around the holist Al-Ka'aba mosque Jan. 14, 2005, in Mecca.
  • <strong>An aerial view shows the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, amid booming construction in the Saudi city of Mecca on
    KHALED DESOUKI via Getty Images
    An aerial view shows the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, amid booming construction in the Saudi city of Mecca on Dec. 9, 2008.
  • <strong>A picture shows the Mecca Royal Clock Tower hotel complex, under construction in the holy Saudi city of Mecca on Apri
    Getty Images
    A picture shows the Mecca Royal Clock Tower hotel complex, under construction in the holy Saudi city of Mecca on April 13, 2010.
  • <strong>An aerial view shows Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of the holy city of Mecca on Aug. 6
    Amer Hilabi / AFP / Getty Images
    An aerial view shows Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of the holy city of Mecca on Aug. 6, 2012.
  • <strong>The tallest clock tower in the world with the world's largest clock face at the Abraj Al-Bait Towers overlooks the Gr
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The tallest clock tower in the world with the world's largest clock face at the Abraj Al-Bait Towers overlooks the Grand Mosque and its expansion in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.
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