The town of Mecca, in the Hijaz of western Arabia, in addition to its importance as the goal of the ḥajj, or annual Muslim pilgrimage, was a commercial emporium of great importance during the Mamlūk era (A.H. 648/1250–A.H. 923/1517). Approximately eighty kilometres to the west of the Holy City lies the port ofjedda, which had been under the direct control of the Ḥasanid sharīfs of Mecca since at least the fifth/eleventh century. During Mamlūk times, Jedda was a way station of gradually increasing importance on the maritime trade route connecting the ports of the western coast of India with the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. The merchandise around which this trade revolved consisted almost exclusively of luxury goods and small-sized but high-priced commodities, destined for the markets of Egypt, the Levant and western Europe, and included – among other goods – both cotton and silken cloth, all manners of spices, but primarily pepper from the Malabar coast of southwestern India, camphor, musk, amber, sandalwood, Indian Ocean pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, such as agates, and materia medica from the Indian subcontinent, as well as goods trans-shipped from East Asia.