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 Topic: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?

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  • Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     OP - October 25, 2012, 12:51 PM



    I find it both sad and fascinating. Sad because the Kaaba and its environs are historical sites of immense importance and to see them being destroyed like this is just disturbing.

    Fascinating, because of what it says about Islam today. Is it just down to the vulgarity of the Saudi custodians? Wasn't the Kaaba (and Islam) all about the money and demonstrations of power to begin with?


    +++++++






    A glowing green disc hovers high in the sky at night, casting an eerie glow over a forest of minarets, cranes and concrete frames that seem to stretch endlessly into the dusty distance, like a vast field of dominoes. The disc is the largest clockface in the world – and not only does it adorn the tallest clocktower in the world, it also sits atop a building boasting the biggest floor area in the world. Visible 30km away, this is the Abraj al-Bait, which rises like Big Ben on steroids to tower 600m over the holy mosque of Mecca in the spiritual heart of the Islamic world.

    This thrusting pastiche palace houses an array of luxury hotels and apartments, perched above a five-storey slab of shopping malls. Completed last year at a cost of $15bn (£9bn), it stands where an Ottoman fortress once stood. A stone citadel built in 1781 to repel bandits, the Ajyad fortress's demolition sparked an international outcry in 2002, but this was quickly rebuffed by the Saudi Islamic affairs minister. "No one has the right to interfere in what comes under the state's authority," he said. "This development is in the interest of all Muslims all over the world." The fortress wasn't just swept away – the hill it sat on went, too.

    Shooting 26 searchlights 10km into the skies, and blaring its call to prayer 7km across the valley, the Abraj al-Bait is also the world's second tallest building. Encrusted with mosaics and inlaid with gold, it is the most visible (and audible) sign of the frenzied building boom that has taken hold of Saudi Arabia's holy city over the last 10 years. "It is truly indescribable," says Sami Angawi, architect and founder of the Jeddah-based Hajj Research Centre, who has spent the last three decades researching and documenting the historic buildings of Mecca and Medina, few of which now remain. In particular, the house of the prophet's wife, Khadijah, was razed to make way for public lavatories; the house of his companion, Abu Bakr, is now the site of a Hilton hotel; and his grandson's house was flattened by the King's palace. "They are turning the holy sanctuary into a machine, a city which has no identity, no heritage, no culture and no natural environment. They've even taken away the mountains," says Angawi.

    Geological features have proved no match for dynamite and concrete, which are being liberally deployed to make way for the burgeoning number of visitors. Three million Muslims arrived in Mecca this week for the annual hajj pilgrimage, an event that has mutated from a simple, spartan rite of passage, in which pilgrims give up their worldly goods, into a big-bucks business worthy of Las Vegas – with the overblown architecture to match.

    Along the western flank of the city are the first towers of the Jabal Omar development, a sprawling complex that will eventually accommodate 100,000 people in 26 luxury hotels – sitting on another gargantuan plinth of 4,000 shops and 500 restaurants, along with its own six-storey prayer hall. The line of blocks, which will climb to heights of up to 200 metres and terminate in a monumental gateway building, share the clocktower's Islamic-lite language: a cliched dressing of pointed arches and filigree grillwork plastered over generic concrete shells.

    The developers have somehow transformed a type of architecture that evolved from a dense urban grain of low-rise courtyards and narrow streets into meaningless wallpaper: an endlessly repeatable pattern for the decoration of standardised slab after standardised slab. Flimsy rows of concrete arches hang above swaths of blue mirror glass, punctuated by stick-on timber trellis screens. These are modelled on traditional mashrabiya panels, those beautiful latticework openings designed as ventilating veils, but here they become meaningless applique. "If we are imitating, why can't we imitate the best?" asks Angawi, in a tone of desperation. "Why are we imitating the worst mistakes of 60 or 70 years ago from around the world – only even bigger?"




    Another development of repetitive slabs, echoing Jabal Omar's toast-rack urbanism, is slated for the northern side of the Grand Mosque, at al-Shamiya, while a $10bn plan to provide an extra 400,000 sq metres of prayer halls there is almost complete. Standing like a gigantic triangular slice of wedding cake, this building will accommodate 1.2m more worshippers each year, but it has come at a price.

    "This was the most historic part of the old city," says Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the UK-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, who has worked in vain to raise the profile of his country's historic sites. "It has now all been flattened." Residents were evicted, he says, with one week's notice, and many have still not been compensated – a common story across Mecca's developments. "They are now living in shantytowns on the edge of the city without proper sanitation. Locals, who have lived here for generations, are being forced out to make way for these marble castles in the sky."

    Alawi describes the imminent arrival of yet more seven-star hotels even closer to the mosque than the al-Bait clocktower, as well as proposals to develop Jabal Khandama, on the hills to the east, which will likely see the erasure of the site where the prophet Muhammad was born. Alawi says this wilful destruction of Islamic heritage is no accident: it is driven by state-endorsed wahhabism, the hardline interpretation of Islam that perceives historical sites as encouraging sinful idolatry. So anything that relates to the prophet could be in the bulldozer's sights.

    "It is the end of Mecca," says Alawi. "And for what? Most of these hotels are 50% vacant and the malls are empty – the rents are too expensive for the former souk stall-holders. And people praying in the new mosque extension will not even be able to see the Kaaba."

    The Kaaba is the holy black cube in the centre of the Grand Mosque, around which pilgrims walk; proximity to it has become the ultimate currency, allowing hotel suites with the best views to charge $7,000 per night during peak seasons. This unique concentricity, with everything determined by its orientation towards the hallowed centre, has spawned a strangely diagrammatic radial urbanism. From above, like a sea of iron filings pulled by a magnet, the whole city appears to crowd round a core, the vortex of pilgrims giving way to an equally swirling current of tower blocks. It is the axis of prayer writ large in concrete.

    The road to Mecca funnels traffic into two lanes: the one marked "Muslims only" goes to the holy city; the other, marked "Non Muslims", bypasses it, since the latter – me included – are forbidden entry to Mecca (and Medina) under Saudi law. Soon after this hajj, work will start on the expansion of the mataf, the open area around the Kaaba, to triple its capacity to 130,000 pilgrims per hour. But to create this, the historic centre of the mosque will be obliterated. "They want to get rid of the brick vaults and stone columns that have stood there since the 17th century," says Alawi. "These are the oldest part of the holy mosque, designed by the great architect Sinan. The pillars are inscribed with stories and the names of the prophet's companions, so the wahhabis want to see them bulldozed."



    The desperation to be, or feel, as close as possible to the Kaaba has forced buildings to become ever higher, ever more ridiculously tapered, so everyone can have a view, however notional, of the sacred centre. This has given the sanctified "mother of villages" the most expensive real estate in the world: a square foot around the Grand Mosque now sells for up to $18,000, mayor Osama al-Bar said last year, dwarfing the Monaco average of $4,400.

    As the influx of pilgrims increases, land values will continue to rise: 12 million visit the city every year, a figure expected to swell to 17 million by 2025. They will be eased on their way by a new high-speed rail link that will connect gateway city Jeddah with Mecca and Medina. Jeddah's King Abdul Aziz international airport is itself undergoing expansion to quadruple its capacity to 80 million passengers a year.

    Fuelled by petrodollars, all of these vast projects are now either completed or well under way. So it seems strange that King Abdullah should only now be ordering the creation of a masterplan for Mecca and its surroundings, covering buildings, transport and infrastructure – given that most of the city's holy mountains have been dynamited into dust, and all but a handful of its ancient monuments buried beneath soaring structures. As Angawi says: "There is no other place in the world where development starts with bulldozing before planning. But it is not too late if we stop now. Otherwise, we risk the sanctity of Mecca being gone for ever."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/oct/23/mecca-architecture-hajj1?commentpage=all#start-of-comments

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #1 - October 25, 2012, 12:55 PM

    Sad, I don't like Hajj or the custom of it, but I've always thought the idea of the rich and the poor sharing the same experience in the name of some sort of passion (misguided I know) was somewhat redeeming, the vision that Malcolm X saw when he went on Hajj pretty much convinced him away from racial nationalism, and there's something to be said about that. Now it's turned into an economically segregated experience where the rich dine and stay in top hotels while the poor (who have saved and scrimped most of their lives) try and make do with tents etc. If the Saudi Arabian government truly cared about religious devotion rather than build malls with petrodollars, they would subsidize hajj trips for the poor especially from poor countries to ease their burden. But of course, they are all about the money.

    Oh, and also the destruction of ancient sites in the name of money is always a travesty.

    What a shame.

    "Nobody who lived through the '50s thought the '60s could've existed. So there's always hope."-Tuli Kupferberg

    What apple stores are like.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8QmZWv-eBI
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #2 - October 25, 2012, 01:12 PM


    I find it both sad and fascinating. Sad because the Kaaba and its environs are historical sites of immense importance and to see them being destroyed like this is just disturbing.

    Fascinating, because of what it says about Islam today. Is it just down to the vulgarity of the Saudi custodians? Wasn't the Kaaba (and Islam) all about the money and demonstrations of power to begin with?


    Who knows, but I am sure that anything that had existed at Mecca and Medina from Muhammad's time was probably already long gone by the late Medieval and Ottoman periods anyway, so there was probably nothing left to preserve anyway.

    The oldest surviving Islamic building in the world is supposedly the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, built under Abd Al Malik in the 690s AD. But even that building has been redeveloped so many times that I doubt that much of the original style of the building still survives today. The gold dome and the colorful panels on the outside look like they are from the 17th century or later.

    But the funniest thing about all of this is, what if Tom Holland's hunch about Mecca is right? What if there was really nothing there during the time of Muhammad, and Muhammad really lived up in Jordan. All of this development around this sacred site would thus mean nothing because the site was never the home of Muhammad in the first place.
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #3 - October 25, 2012, 01:47 PM

    Who knows, but I am sure that anything that had existed at Mecca and Medina from Muhammad's time was probably already long gone ..............

    Well we have the toilet bowl to put the head inside if you are rich and famous., otherwise you just have to touch the bowl..

    Quote
    . Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, .....


    What Jerusalem? WHAT DOME OF ROCK  Tonyt??     what is that  has to do with Muhammad..... Prophet of Islam??  After the death of Prophet of Islam.. Muslim RASCALS.. converted/inverted/usurped/plagiarized people/their brain/their wealth, their religious symbols/their buildings  and their alleged scriptures  Now they call it as Islamic DOME.. That was built by that warmongering Bedouin RASCAL  `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan  .. and THAT WAS THE MOST BRUTAL TIMES OF ISLAM.

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #4 - October 25, 2012, 04:55 PM

    In a few hundred years they will build a mega-skyscraper in that area and people will complain that they can't see the clock tower.
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #5 - October 25, 2012, 08:21 PM

    I think it's interesting that the Whabbi aversion to sites and shrines would result in a cultureless urbanscape where the narrative and history of Islam are destroyed in the name of it's practice.

    So once again I'm left with the classic Irish man's dilemma, do I eat the potato or do I let it ferment so I can drink it later?
    My political philosophy below
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwGat4i8pJI&feature=g-vrec
    Just kidding, here are some true heros
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBTgvK6LQqA
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #6 - October 25, 2012, 08:28 PM

    What is the Kaaba if not a shrine? Carried to its logical conclusion, the Wahhabi policy should require the destruction of the Kaaba.

    Devious, treacherous, murderous, neanderthal, sub-human of the West. bunny
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #7 - October 25, 2012, 08:29 PM

    Logical conclusion and Wahhabi are muturally exclusive terms.

    "Nobody who lived through the '50s thought the '60s could've existed. So there's always hope."-Tuli Kupferberg

    What apple stores are like.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8QmZWv-eBI
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #8 - October 25, 2012, 08:32 PM

    Yes, I know. It'd be fun to point this out to them anyway, and try to get them excited about it. grin12

    Devious, treacherous, murderous, neanderthal, sub-human of the West. bunny
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #9 - October 25, 2012, 09:46 PM

    Very like Las Vegas.  As it is already called Mecca, when will they open the halal casinos?

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    A.A. Milne,

    "We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #10 - October 25, 2012, 10:23 PM


    "They are turning the holy sanctuary into a machine, a city which has no identity, no heritage, no culture and no natural environment. They've even taken away the mountains," says Angawi.


    Islam. Destroying Cultural Heritage since 600 C.E.  

    With Islam being the totalitarian ideology that it is it's no surprise that it seeks to get rid of all cultures, suppress individuality and make everyone conform like one big worldwide mob of mindless drones.

    In my opinion a life without curiosity is not a life worth living
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #11 - October 25, 2012, 11:34 PM

    Here's the thread from last year about this.

    My reaction is also mixed. It is sad to see a historic city turned into a tourist destination with hotel, hotel, hotel, mall, hotel, mall, hotel... and for the rich only. The poor are being pushed further and further out. They are not wanted there, it seems.

    It is becoming a tourist destination / holiday resort for many middle class Muslim families from all over the world. But a strange tourist destination in that the couples are segregated when they enter the mosque. Very romantic!

    On the other hand these massive developments imply that they are essentially embracing modernity and western culture in various forms, whilst pretending to be conservative.

    "Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so." -- Bertrand Russell

    Baloney Detection Kit
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #12 - October 25, 2012, 11:52 PM

    Very like Las Vegas.  As it is already called Mecca, when will they open the halal casinos?

    Cheesy
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #13 - October 25, 2012, 11:58 PM

    Logical conclusion and Wahhabi are muturally exclusive terms.

    Cheesy
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #14 - October 26, 2012, 12:21 AM

    What is the Kaaba if not a shrine? Carried to its logical conclusion, the Wahhabi policy should require the destruction of the Kaaba.


    Very true.

    At the minimum they should prevent practises like the kissing of the black stone.

    There is a hadith about one of the companions of Muhammad saying that Mo smashed the idols but kept the black stone and kissed it - he said he kissed it too but it made no sense and the only reason he did it was because Muhammad did so.

    Can't remember who but I remember reading about this.

    Mo made concessions to paganism I guess.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #15 - October 26, 2012, 12:34 AM

    Can't remember who but I remember reading about this.


    Narrated by Zaid bin Aslam from his father who said:
    "Umar bin Al-Khattab addressed the Corner (Black Stone) saying, 'By Allah! I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.' Then he kissed it and said, 'There is no reason for us to do Ramal (in Tawaf) except that we wanted to show off before the pagans, and now Allah has destroyed them.' 'Umar added, '(Nevertheless), the Prophet did that and we do not want to leave it (i.e. Ramal).' (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 26, Number 675)

    'Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.'

    Join the chat!
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #16 - October 26, 2012, 12:38 AM



    Although, I doubt most people going to hajj pray for "starving children". More likely most are praying for forgiveness for that pre-marital nookie they got or that drink they had or whatever else they feel is blocking them from getting to "jannah".

    "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused."

    Help keep this forum going! Donate to the Council of ExMuslims here: ex-muslim.org.uk/donate
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #17 - October 26, 2012, 12:48 AM

    Narrated by Zaid bin Aslam from his father who said:
    "Umar bin Al-Khattab addressed the Corner (Black Stone) saying, 'By Allah! I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.' Then he kissed it and said, 'There is no reason for us to do Ramal (in Tawaf) except that we wanted to show off before the pagans, and now Allah has destroyed them.' 'Umar added, '(Nevertheless), the Prophet did that and we do not want to leave it (i.e. Ramal).' (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 26, Number 675)


    Thanks  Smiley

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #18 - October 26, 2012, 12:50 AM

    (Clicky for piccy!)

    Although, I doubt most people going to hajj pray for "starving children". More likely most are praying for forgiveness for that pre-marital nookie they got or that drink they had or whatever else they feel is blocking them from getting to "jannah".


    My word, how vulgar and repulsive is that.

    Can you imagine any other religion allowing such a monstrosity to be created in its most holy site?

    Something is seriously perverse in the Saudi mind, seriously perverse.

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #19 - October 26, 2012, 01:10 AM

    Narrated by Zaid bin Aslam from his father who said:
    "Umar bin Al-Khattab addressed the Corner (Black Stone) saying, 'By Allah! I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you.' Then he kissed it

     

    Talking to a rock before kissing it is a sign of madness if I've ever seen it.  And muslims take that guy as a role model.  Idiots.

    In my opinion a life without curiosity is not a life worth living
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #20 - October 26, 2012, 03:03 AM

    My word, how vulgar and repulsive is that.

    Can you imagine any other religion allowing such a monstrosity to be created in its most holy site?

    Something is seriously perverse in the Saudi mind, seriously perverse.


    Religion and blowing a shit-load of money on decorations pretty much go hand in hand. It's not a saudi thing, they just happen to have more shit-loads of money.
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #21 - October 26, 2012, 03:09 AM

    That is true. The Vatican is a prime example. I think Mecca is trying to out-bloat the Vatican.


    "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused."

    Help keep this forum going! Donate to the Council of ExMuslims here: ex-muslim.org.uk/donate
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #22 - October 26, 2012, 03:14 AM

    If any man deserves to be called pure evil it's the pope. He allows the abuse of innocent children to take place right under his nose.

    The most wretched piece of filthy scum I've ever seen.

    In my opinion a life without curiosity is not a life worth living
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #23 - October 26, 2012, 10:15 AM

    Religion and blowing a shit-load of money on decorations pretty much go hand in hand. It's not a saudi thing, they just happen to have more shit-loads of money.


    Its the aesthetic violation of it that is jarring.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #24 - October 26, 2012, 10:52 AM

    well if they make it so all muslims in the west can go and live there, well they would want to wont they?  Tongue
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #25 - October 26, 2012, 11:03 AM


    No SciFiFan, such sentiments of indiscriminate generalisation are bigoted and unacceptable.


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #26 - October 26, 2012, 11:49 AM

    ok. i apologise and wont do that again.
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #27 - October 26, 2012, 01:22 PM

    Religion and blowing a shit-load of money on decorations pretty much go hand in hand. It's not a saudi thing, they just happen to have more shit-loads of money.


    Yes, you are right. It is not just Islam. But there is a difference. In the West, religious sites are seen as something connected with the past and therefore massive over-development around them are discouraged. In fact religion itself is connected with the past, there is a seperation between the modern world and the religious world. That is why all of the bling bling you see around the Vatican is from many centuries ago.

    In Islamic societies, religion is not relegated to the past but takes an active role in modernity. Therefore there is no real interest in preserving past religious monuments, especially not if they can afford to make them bigger and better today.
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #28 - October 26, 2012, 01:28 PM

    I think that only really applies to Saudi and oil money countries. In Syria, Iraq, Iran, Caucasus, Turkey and many other Muslim countries religious sites are reverred but are also decaying gradually.

    "Nobody who lived through the '50s thought the '60s could've existed. So there's always hope."-Tuli Kupferberg

    What apple stores are like.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8QmZWv-eBI
  • Re: Mecca 'development' - how does this make you feel?
     Reply #29 - October 26, 2012, 01:50 PM

    Its the aesthetic violation of it that is jarring.




    No!  It is a beautiful rendition of the Las Vegas school of architecture!  It will be a world heritage site soon!

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    A.A. Milne,

    "We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
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