Categorized | Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: It is Okay to Deface Makkah but Don’t Let Women Drive

NOVANEWS

When you ask a Saudi about Makkah many will talk about the way Makkah was…before the day of the Clocktower.  I used to believe that the Clocktower in Makkah was a welcoming beacon but I have changed my view.  I now see it as part of the ‘extreme commercialism’ that keeps gaining momentum in Makkah.  Only last week Marriott Corporation announced that by 2014 three new hotels will be built in Makkah adding more than 1500 rooms.  These hotels will also overlook the Haram.  Among these three hotels will be a landmark J W Marriott which is described as “…unique environments, spacious guest rooms with luxurious amenities, imaginative dining experiences and an overall heightened level of sophistication without pretense.”  Sophistication without pretense? Is this necessary for a hotel at the Haram where the majority of visitors come for Umrah or Hajj?

Then the Makkah Hilton which is where the Makkah Clocktower is located advertises on its web site that guests can “Pray with views over the Holy Haram in the 2 air-conditioned and carpeted 10,000-seater prayer halls.”  As early as 10 years ago there were no such luxury facilities available which want to encourage its visitors to stay in rather than follow the footsteps of so many millions before them.

These luxury facilities do not come without a price to the people of Makkah.  In order to make room for the “luxury hajj and umrah” facilities, residents have been displaced and small businesses have had to relocate.  Such expansion has also resulted in rising costs for those who either live in or visit Makkah.  Is Hajj or umrah becoming cost prohibitive because of these ‘luxury enhancements?’

Performing Hajj or Umrah has always been about simplicity.  All who enter the Haram (Grand Mosque) are dressed the same and perform the same ritual.  They follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH).

I am surprised that the religious police, the muttaween, have not spoken out about the “defacing of Makkah” yet en masse they have denounced and arrested Saudi woman, Manal Al-Sherif, for daring to drive.

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