MAKKAH: Residents of Makkah’s old neighborhoods used to provide all manner of services and facilities to pilgrims who came from all over the world to perform Hajj.
Many of these neighborhoods were demolished to modernize Makkah and accommodate 30 million pilgrims by 2030.
Historical writer Saad Al-Shareef told Arab News that the neighborhood of Gaza, which was one of the most famous in Makkah, used to be full of hotels and buildings where Hajjis slept, ate and enjoyed themselves.
Nowadays, the neighborhood consists of temporary offices for engineers and project facilities, he said.
Khaled Fida, secretary-general of the Makkah Development Authority, said 60 neighborhoods have been demolished to expand the Grand Mosque and its environs.
But Ajyad and Ray Bakhsh have not undergone much change, giving people an opportunity to witness the history of these neighborhoods and how residents have served pilgrims for decades in their homes, said Mayor Fahd Al-Harbi.
The battle between heat and ice in Makkah and Madinah
Between high temperatures, the difficulty of transporting ice to holy sites and the arrival of Hajj pilgrims, maintaining adequate supplies of ice in Makkah and Madinah is a challenge.
Hisham Kaaki, an ice factory owner, told Arab News that each pilgrim consumes on average 1 kg of ice every four days, and the Kingdom is expecting some 2 million pilgrims this Hajj season.
Ice factories are crucial in the Kingdom due to high temperatures and the Hajj season, he said.
Nutritionist Manal Hawsawi said keeping food refrigerated or chilled prevents bacterial growth that could make people sick.
Due to the difficulty of transporting ice to holy sites in high temperatures, Hawsawi recommended using refrigerated vehicles that can keep ice frozen until it is delivered.