According to various yearly polls, around 2 million people attend the annual Hajj at the holy city of Mecca – an astronomical figure which is further bolstered by around 20 million visitors who travel to the city in other times of the year. And now, high constructional figures are all set to accompany such numbers – with architecture conglomerate Dar Al-Handasah’s grand plan to build the world’s largest hotel inside the city’s perimeters (in the Manafia area). Touted as the Abraj Kudai, the 2,000 ft tall 5-star hotel will boast of a whopping 1.4 million sq m (about 15 million sq ft) of usable floor area. And in case you thought that was imposing, the expansive spatial ambit will be complemented by 12 towers and 4 helipads – with the total cost of the project estimated at around £2.3 billion ($3.5 billion).
As for the ostentatious interior aspects of the Abraj Kudai, the hotel will have 10,000 guest bedrooms, seventy restaurants, a dedicated bus station, an entire shopping mall and even a ballroom. And being funded by Saudi Minister of Finance himself, it comes as no surprise that the massive establishment will have five floors entirely reserved for the Saudi royal family.
Now, the numbers given in the first paragraph certainly provide the economic justification for the construction of a megastructure in Mecca, especially with the myriad visitors accounting for around £5.8 billion (around $8.8 billion) in revenues on an annual basis. But ritzy endeavors do not always equate to preservation of religious sanctity, when it comes to a famed pilgrimage site. This was made clear by Irfan Al-Alawi, director of the UK-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation (as told to The Guardian) –
The city is turning into Mecca-hattan. Everything has been swept away to make way for the incessant march of luxury hotels, which are destroying the sanctity of the place and pricing normal pilgrims out.
These are the last days of Mecca. The pilgrimage is supposed to be a spartan, simple rite of passage, but it has turned into an experience closer to Las Vegas, which most pilgrims simply can’t afford.
Via: The Guardian
Images Credit: Dar Al-Handasah