by george matthews
Most of the rest of Saudi Arabia seems open to non-Muslims, however, and I'm sure that this Mecca - Medina train will also be.The last time I was in the east of Saudi Arabia one could travel from Taif to Jeddah - by taxi - only with a permit from the local government. One had to show it to the police before setting out.
There is a special road built for non-Muslim travellers to avoid Makkah. From it one can not see the city - though at night the lights can be seen reflected in the sky. It carries traffic from Jeddah to Taif - a major traffic route. Whether the current regime feels the same way is unknown to me but it is a possible factor in the planning. Nowadays planning of new railways sometimes puts stations well outside the urban areas - I am thinking of the new rail line in Kenya, where the Nairobi station is no longer inside the city - which actually grew up around the original rail station. Perhaps, if the Makkah station will be outside the city, non-Muslims will be allowed to travel but if it is near enough to see the city I doubt if non-muslims will be allowed.