The vast majority of Muslims around the world prefer not to travel during the month of Ramadan. Instead, they would spend the month with family and friends at home in a familiar environment to maximize the observance of faith-related practices. Apart from home, the other top three locations that Muslims are eager to spend Ramadan are the three holy mosques of Masjid al-Haram, Masjid an-Nabawi and Masjid al-Aqsa.
Makkah and Madinah, in which Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi are located respectively, remain the top two destinations for Muslims during Ramadan. During this period, Muslims would try to combine the performance of Umrah (minor pilgrimage) in Makkah with the unique benefits of observing the fasting of Ramadan within the sanctity of the holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah. In addition, many Muslims also spend the last 10 days staying in Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi for the purpose of worship in seclusion or Itikaf.
According to Saudi Arabian authorities, 2015 saw more than 6 million visitors during the month of Ramadan. With the expansion of the two holy mosques, this number could continue to rise in the coming years.
Apart from home and the holy mosques, there is a growing trend amongst Muslims to spend their Ramadan in other locations. In most cases this could be due to necessity.
Six Key Drivers of Muslims Traveling in Ramadan are:
Traveling to perfor Umrah continues to be the main faith-based need for Muslim travelers journeying to the holy city of Makkah. This number is set to increase with more capacity being catered to travelers visiting the holy site.
Muslim business travelers will continue to travel should business activities and dealings fall in the month of Ramadan. With globalized trade and an increasingly interconnected world, the need for business travel in Ramadan will remain.
With an increasing trend in family members living overseas for long periods due to studies or work, with some even migrating to other countries, Ramadan becomes an important and precious period for Muslims to travel and be closer to their loved ones.
Some Muslim travelers will also opt to travel during this period to experience the unique ways Ramadan is practised around the world. The culture experienced in another country may be significantly different from that in their home country.
Unlike the past where Muslims were concentrated in specific regions, today they have become a globalized community and live in almost every corner of the world. Muslims living in environments with extreme weather conditions or long fasting durations may be motivated to travel to other destinations during the month of Ramadan so that they can perform their fasting more comfortably. This is especially true for first and second generation of migrants who have not grown accustomed to their new living conditions, as well as people of old age.
With increasing availability of Ramadan-friendly facilities in many destinations, the above drivers will continue to change the dynamics of Muslims spending the month of Ramadan away from their usual place of residence.