Lonely Planet Writer

Mecca under threat of demolition for shopping mall

Extensions to the Grand Mosque deemed necessary to cope with increasing numbers of pilgrims and visitors.
Extensions to the Grand Mosque deemed necessary to cope with increasing numbers of pilgrims and visitors. Image by Al Jazeera English / CC BY-SA 2.0

The site in Mecca where Prophet Mohammed is said to have been born is due to be demolished within the next few months. The plan is part of major construction to expand the Grand Mosque, where millions of pilgrims go for Hajj every year. Part of the expansion includes a huge royal palace for King Abdullah to stay in when he visits Mecca, as well as new shopping malls and luxury hotels. Already, 500-year-old Ottoman columns commemorating the Prophet’s ascent to heaven have been destroyed, while the House of Mawlid, thought to be his birthplace, is expected to be knocked down by the end of the year.
There has been criticism from the international community, but those within Saudi Arabia with concerns are at risk of punishment if they speak out. The government say the construction is necessary to expand the capacity of the Grand Mosque for the large numbers of visiting pilgrims. Read more: independent.co.uk