RIYADH  - Saudi Arabia raised $16.5 billion from pilgrimages this year to Makkah and Medina in the west of the kingdom, a Saudi newspaper reported on Thursday.Al-Hayat, citing religious tourism sources, said a total of 12 million pilgrims visited Islam’s holiest sites during the annual Haj which took place this year at the end of October or for the year-long Umrah, or minor pilgrimage. The pilgrims - including 3.1 million who performed the Haj, including 1.7 million from abroad, according to official figures - spent 62b riyals ($16.5b), a rise of 10 per cent over 2011 because of increased costs, it said.