Makkah's Islamic Holy Sites Overshadowed By Skyscrapers
Reports from Makkan residents show there is an increasing worry that Islam's holiest sites are disappearing behind skyscrapers. A conc...
Reports from Makkan residents show there is an increasing worry that Islam's holiest sites are disappearing behind skyscrapers. A concern that was foreshadowed by Prophet Muhammad, as a sign of 'the end of times'.
Future developments of Islam's sacred city Makkah will be more in tune with modern architecture, towering skyscrapers and 5-star hotels, which the mayor of Makkah supports.
Makkah is known as the 'birthplace' of Islam, a historic city in which Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was born, and where Hajrah, wife of Prophet Ibrahim, discovered the Zazam water. The city is the qibla, prayer direction for Muslims and each year, almost 3 million Muslim pilgrims descend in the city to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
Over the last few years though, dozens of red and yellow cranes have shadowed over sites. Huge metal scaffolding can be seen from afar, aimed at increasing hotel space and improving facilities for pilgrims to make the Hajj safer and easier.
The Opulent Clock Tower
One of the most extravagent structures is of course the government-owned 600 metre (1,970 feet) clock tower. Many visitors and residents say this particularl development has moved too quickly. Critics say are the the narrow Makkan streets are not designed to hold such towering structures and that the tower "does not respect the dignity, sanctity and culture of the Kabah".
The tower, which overlooks the Kaaba, was built over a demolished 18th-century Ottoman fort on a prominent Makkan hillside, now flattened to the ground
“The building regulations in the city take into consideration the width of the streets, central locations and do not allow the building of skyscrapers…what was built was that,” Mayor Osama al-Bar told Reuters when asked about the tower.
Future projects “will be far from the grand mosque by 300 meters … The buildings will have reasonable heights between 8 to 10 floors and will have the Meccan style,” he said.
Within the next six years, the governments hopes to reinforce the infrastructure surrouding Masjid al-Haram, Makkah's Grand Mosque. Congested narrow roads will be replaced with news ones, foot bridges are to be installed for pedestrians and a larger four-line metro.
“We want to evolve Mecca, not change it,” said Sami Angawi, founder of Hajj Research Center and an expert on Mecca. However, the Crown Prince Naif said that the developent already taken place “be little compared to what will happen”.
Proposed 6-year plans of Makkah will push residents aside for hotels, malls and cafes.
Angawi, who is originally from Mecca, refuses to enter his city because he is unhappy about the way the city is being transfored. He said,
“I love Mecca and cannot see the beloved (sanctuary) of the Prophet being destroyed and handled this way,” said Angawi, who, like many Muslims, believes Makkah is a holy place where change must be made in a delicate manner.
Deadly stampedes, tent fires and other accidents have several times caused many deaths, forcing the government to spend lavishly on new infrastructure. This year over the Umrah period before Hajj, twelve Egyptians died and two British pilgrims died in a bus fire.
The mosque will see an rise in number of hotels, malls and cafes. Housing estates will be built for suburban residents and a park for relocated residents. The long-term projects are set for complete for 2020.
A historic expansion of Masjid al-Haram will see an addition 400,000 square metres and shaded areas to shelter worshipped from the scroching sun. According to property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle, the land around the mosque is the most expensive real estate in the world, with claims that a square foot of land in some reaches up to $18,000.
“Mecca is the heart of the Islamic world… what we are doing is changing the heart from a natural heart to a mechanical one,” Angawi said.
+ National Post
Image + Ammar Awad/Reuters
Is Kabah Kiswah Cloth Ethical For Being Expensive?
“Mekkah Metro” Marks A Green Hajj For Pilgrims
"Does God Recycle?" Featured: The Eco Muslim In India's Mid-Day Paper