This video by Rebel Media claims at 4.10:

Saudi Arabia has 100,000 air-conditioned tents sitting empty in the desert. They can hold half a million people ...

Is it true?

  • 24
    Of all the nonsense in that video, why choose this particular claim?
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 11, 2016 at 12:00
  • 14
    @Oddthinking Cause I wasn't sure if this claim was nonsense or not. It showed a picture that seemed quite convincing. Dec 11, 2016 at 12:31
  • 24
    @Oddthinking : And, as it turned out, it was not a complete nonsense.
    – vsz
    Dec 11, 2016 at 20:35
  • 9
    @vsz: My concern is the picking out of this one, easily-Googleable fact from a propaganda video containing plenty of mistruths is giving the rest of the video an aura of accuracy.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 11, 2016 at 23:27
  • 6
    The wording of this question is unclear and problematic, as @Oddthinking said. "air-conditioned tent sitting empty" is the present participle, implies it is both currently a) empty and b) air-conditioned. Not "empty tent used one week a year which has air-conditioning [when it's occupied]".
    – smci
    Dec 12, 2016 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


Yes, the city of Mina has 100,000 air-conditioned tents. They are empty much of the year.

More info:

Mina is a small city located inside a low lying valley in the province of Makkh, in western Saudi Arabia, about 8 km to the east of the Holy city of Mecca. Inside the 20 square km valley, tents cover every open space, as far as the eye can see, neatly arranged, row after row. It is in these tents Hajj pilgrims stay overnight during the five days of each Haj season. For the rest of the year, Mina remains pretty much deserted.

There are more than 100,000 air-conditioned tents in Mina providing temporary accommodation to 3 million pilgrims. The tents measure 8 meters by 8 meters and are constructed of fiberglass coated with Teflon in order to ensure high resistance to fire. Originally pilgrims brought their own tents which they would erect in the flat plains of Mina. After Hajj is over, the tents would be dismantled, everything packed and taken back. Then sometime in the 1990s, the Saudi government installed permanent cotton tents relieving pilgrims of the burden of having to carry their own camping equipment. But after a massive fire that swept through the tent city killing nearly 350 pilgrims in 1997, the current permanent fire-proof city was built.

Wikimedia offers a picture:

Photo from mountainside of the tented areas covering the Plain of Mina, Saudi Arabia

Photo from mountainside of the tented areas covering the Plain of Mina, Saudi Arabia

A satellite view of the tents shows the enormous extent of this tent city. (Hat tip: @Janik Zikovsky)

The existence of this tent city should not be interpreted as support for the rest of the propaganda in the Rebel Media video. For example, we have had answers here before that explain that the "zero refugees" is explained by legal definitions of refugees rather than a lack of support of Syrians. The existence of the tents, designed to handle the annual pilgrimage, doesn't imply that the logistics of using them to support 500,000 permanent residents is easy.

  • 30
    Side note: this claim is usually in support of the idea that the Saudis could house a bunch of refugees in them. I suspect, though, that the infrastructure to support millions for a week would not be the same as the infrastructure to support millions year-round. Sanitation, trash, medical care, security, etc. would all be vastly different tasks.
    – ceejayoz
    Dec 11, 2016 at 18:01
  • 57
    One might similarly count the number of vacant hotel rooms in Miami (or most ski resorts) in the summer.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 11, 2016 at 18:45
  • 21
    Just to be clear - the AC is not running all year round, right? This isn't some giant sinkhole of electricity I presume? Dec 11, 2016 at 19:20
  • 36
    @Richard Sitting on a bunch of oil doesn't mean you actively burn money on 100k ACs that no one uses. Rich =/= stupid. Dec 11, 2016 at 21:27
  • 20
    Yes, if it were a hot day and the store were open. If it were a cool day or the store were closed, I wouldn't point to the sign and claim it was misleading. These tents are 'closed' 51 weeks per year.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 12, 2016 at 2:07

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