Before Saudi Arabia took shape on world map, the major parts of the lands encompassing the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah was known as Hejaz. The yearly Islamic pilgrimage to the Holy city of Makkah is one of the five pillars of Islam and one of the most important and most ancient religious pilgrimages in the world. For centuries, the Muslim pilgrims crossed the Arabian Desert in long caravans that followed traditional paths and routes to reach the Holy City of Makkah. More often, it was a long, perilous and tiresome journey. Sultan Abdul Hameed II, who was motivated by the spirit of science, technology and progress, built a Rail road that provided vital necessities and comfort including physical protection to Hajis from Istanbul through Damascus up to Madinah. The underlying intention was to protect Hejaz, the Holy places and other Arab provinces from British invasion. This came to be known as Hejaz Railway. The final destination of the rail route was to be Makkah. Unfortunately, the Madinah-Makkah leg could not be completed due to outbreak of World War I. It has to be underscored that the project had witnessed the true meaning of solidity in the formation and foundation of this railway.
In March 1900, Sultan Abdul Hameed II issued a Decree for the construction of the Hejaz Railroad, provided that the project be totally funded by donations from the Muslim World. Although it was a tough and costly project, this decision was received with joy in the Islamic world. The total cost of the railway was estimated as 4 million Ottoman liras (around 570 kg of gold). This amount corresponded to almost 20 percent of the entire Ottoman budget at that time. The Ottoman Sultan, the Ottoman dynasty, prominent businessmen and even the public donated substantial amounts. However, it was clear that donations would not be enough for the construction of the railway.