You’ve probably read all of those surveys that report which global cities are the most expensive. Invariably the answer is London, or Oslo, or Zurich et al. But according to Saudi government officials, the reports are all wrong – the world’s most expensive real estate is in…Mecca? Government officials have stated that land prices in the Holy City are some of the most expensive in the world, ranging from SR500,000 ($133,300) to SR1.5m ($400,000) per square meter.
Despite those lofty rates, hotel operators are piling into the city. In June InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced intentions to open the world’s largest Holiday Inn hotel. The 5,154 room hotel will open in phases beginning this year. Mecca will soon also be home to the world’s largest hotel overall upon the opening of the gargantuan Abraj Kudai. Once completed the structure will be comprised of 10,000 rooms across 12 towers. The hotels are built to cater to recent growth in pilgrim visits to Mecca. More than 11m Muslim pilgrims from 140 countries are estimated to have visited in 2013. That figure is expected to rise to 17m by 2025.