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Medina Airport Mini Guide
Can Anyone go to Medina?
It depends which part of Medina you are talking about. As it is the second holiest city of Islam after Mecca, only strict Muslims can enter the majority of the city around the Prophet’s Mosque. Non-Muslims are restricted to the outskirts of the city and the airport. If you are a Muslim then a visit to the Prophet’s Mosque will be on your hajj itinerary together with the huge cemetery next door to it where members of the Prophet’s family are buried. There’s also the burial place of the seventy martyrs who died in the pivotal battle near Mount Uhud. For non-Muslims there is little to see or do there.
How do I get into Medina?
Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport is the key entry point for visitors to Medina and pilgrims account for over a quarter of passengers there. The airport is around nine miles from the city centre and taxis and buses can get you to the centre quickly. There are no flights there directly from the UK and most flights are internal or from other Middle Eastern cities. The easiest route from the UK
goes to Istanbul with easyJet followed by a Turkish Airlines flight to Medina.
What is the Airport Like?
It is classed as a small regional airport and for that reason, facilities are minimal. Most people visiting don’t want to spend much time in the airport and their needs don’t include shopping, eating and drinking.
So am I Going to be Shocked When I Land at Medina?
Until the planned renovation and expansion plans are completed then yes you might be. The airport is small and tired looking and you’ll have to walk from your plane to the terminal. At times of pilgrimage, the airport is chaotic and if you make it out with your luggage you’ll have been lucky.
In the arrivals hall you’ll find airport information which is often besieged by people, usually asking nothing related to airport matters. There are car hire desks in the hall and it is again advisable to pre-book a car and take all confirmation with you as they sometimes ‘can’t find a record of your booking’. Public transport from the airport is often rickety and jam-packed but cheap if you are prepared to risk it.
What About When I Return Home?
Once you’ve managed to collect your boarding pass and hand over your suitcases, you’ll find that the airport is a little dingy. There’s a small cafeteria selling hot food with a local twist. International dishes there are often bland and sometimes have strange ingredients in them. There are also a couple of fast food outlets. Shopping is restricted to reading material plus a range of Arab gifts and souvenirs. Wi-Fi isn’t available at the airport but for those arriving at prayer time, there is an airport mosque.
- The law banning entry to Medina for non-Muslims is now extending to the airport which has been a bone of contention as to whether it is under the same restrictions. You'll find warnings on booking engines of airlines flying to Medina, heed them or you may be on the next flight back home.