Mecca’s creeping capitalism

The Independent: Travelling to Mecca as a child, I would shut my eyes as we would approach the boundaries of Masjid al Haram just so I may be able to capture the sense of awe upon arrival. Perhaps it was my heart singing with anticipation, but I always felt something distinct about the air, too, as if infused all of sudden with a kind of sanctity.  And then came the first glance of the marbled minarets, and the Grand Mosque, lit up in all its glory, lay before our eyes.

During the last few trips for Umrah (minor pilgrimage), the journey to Mecca has been poignant for all its spiritual significance — the only aberration in sight is now posed  by the glittering Abraj al Bait (Royal Hotel Clock Tower), visible to the eye from a distance of a good 30 kilometers. Looming above what was once a desert landscape now transformed into matrix of hotels and plazas for pilgrims, the Mecca Clock Tower is the second tallest building in the world, modeled on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and London’s Big Ben, and hosting an array of luxury apartments and outlets. For some it has been a sign of modernization; for others a source for great distaste.


Categories: Asia

1 reply

  1. My brother went for Umrah for the first time about two years ago. He said it was sad to see that there didn’t seem to be any remnants of history left there that one could trace back to the Holy Prophet(pbuh)’s time. Everything is covered in concrete or marble or other things.

    Even in Europe there are places where they would not allow any religious building to have structures taller than their church steeples; even in ordinary American cities they have designated natural areas where no construction is allowed to preserve natural beauty…but apparently the caretakers of Makkah mukarrama and Madinah munawwara did not feel the need to preserve the surroundings where the Holy Prophet (pbuh) lived and walked…Sad indeed.

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