Al Madinah (the shining city or the enlightened city) or Al Madinah, the City of the Prophet, is the second holiest site in Islam after Makkah. It is situated in the Hejaz region of Western Saudi Arabia, about 340km north of Makkah, and has a population of 1,512,724. Like Makkah, entry to Al Madinah is restricted to Muslims only as it is a holy place.
Al Madinah is home to three significant mosques in Islam. The most famous, Masjid AlNabawi – the Prophet’s Mosque was built in the place supposed to be his house. Prophet Muhammad and his first two Caliphs – Abu Bakar and Umar were buried under the Green Dome of this mosque. Masjid Quba was the first mosque of Islam and Masjid AlQiblatain and where the qiblah was switched to Makkah.
Hijra - the migration of the Prophet and his followers to Al Madinah - marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar, the Hijri year, corresponding to the year 622AD.
Al Madinah is an expanding city with modern amenities to cater to the population's growing needs and the millions of pilgrims that visit the city year-round. There are many reputable hotels of international standards and other accommodations to meet the increasing demands. In addition, there are many shopping malls with international brands for all categories of shoppers, whether it is gold, apparel, accessories, carpets, or electrical goods. Area restaurants serve local and international cuisines and are in abundance around the mosque. Al Madinah is also home to the best dates grown in the Kingdom.
There are many attractions in and around the city for visitors. Numerous historical sites such as old mosques and settlements like Madain Saleh situated north of the city are within easy reach from the city and, for the tourist who likes the coastal sites. There is a coastal city called Yanbu, which is located on the west of Al Madinah. Yanbu has a great beach and is considered one of the best places for diving and fishing trips.
There are many schools for Saudi and expatriate children in Madinah. The schools tend to be privately run, and the curriculum varies according to the educational philosophy and ethos of the school. There are several international schools and institutions of different nationalities, where many nationalities' customs, traditions, and holidays are liberally practiced.
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