Many years ago, the city was low-built of neighborhoods that were centuries old. Over the decades, it experienced piecemeal projects of renovation. However, during the mid 2000s, the rulers of the kingdom launched their most ambitious ever overhaul with several mega projects that although not complete, have reshaped the city of Mecca.
Older neighborhoods disappeared for new hotel towers while malls were built right up as close as possible to the Grand Mosque.
The historic sites with great significance for Islam were all demolished.
Right next to the Kaaba, is the third tallest skyscraper in the world, topped by a huge clock, which at night it lit in multiple colors.
One person interviewed on the street called it Mecca-hattan with all its lights. Others thought it looked similar to Las Vegas.
Critics however, say that Mecca’s history has been wiped out thanks to dynamite and bulldozers. The critics question whether what is taking place is actual development.
They complain that the final result is that the holy city has been stripped of its spirituality.
They said in addition, it has robbed the hajj of its message of 1,400 years that Muslims, poor or rich, are equal in front of God as they carry out the rites that are meant to cleanse them of any sin starting and then ending by circling the Kaaba seven times.
The city of Mecca is revered by Muslims in the hundreds of millions worldwide. They face the Kaaba each day during prayers. One of the few places anywhere in the World, the Grand Mosque, is where Muslims of all backgrounds gather –Shiites, Sunnis, secular Muslims hardliners and mystics.
Overseeing Mecca has become an important source of prestige amongst the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. The last two kings Fahd and his successor Abdullah have taken on an additional title – Custodian of the two holy mosques. That helps boost their status and refers to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and Medina’s nearby Muhammad mosque.