Despite reassurances that Mecca would take a more considered approach to construction, a new mega-scheme for the city has just been given the green light. Following the horrendous Mecca Clocktower and the growing sprawl surrounding the city, another huge project seems like the last things the city needs. The new project, which is being led by Germany-based White Sky Group and Riyadh-based Al Fayadh Consultants, is a mixed-use development covering three million square meters in Mecca.
The partnership apparently beat off strong competition from Foster + Partners and will include “middle and high-rise buildings, utilising new technologies in mobility and sustainability.” The development will include things like hotels, residential homes, technical and medical infrastructure as well as parks, open spaces and spacious prayer areas.
As the Hajj pilgrimage attracts up to 3 million people annually, land in and around Mecca is highly sought after and there seems to be no way of holding back development.
Indeed, Hajj itself is slowly becoming more upscale and luxurious by the year. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, rising wealth is contributing to a demand for high standards of accommodation during Hajj and that’s contributing to a surge in hotel investment:
“Hilton Worldwide Inc., owned by Blackstone Group LP, plans to more than double the number of hotels it operates in the country to 14, including six in Mecca. It currently runs six in Saudi Arabia. U.K.-based InterContinental will increase its room numbers by about 50 percent to 7,300 in the next three to five years. Hyatt, whose only Saudi hotel opened in 2009, expects to have eight more in five years.”
Whether this luxury-style travel and accommodation contradicts the egalitarian spirit of Hajj is something which I have asked before. Personally, I don’t think private jets, exclusive airports and luxury hotels help foster the spirit of equality. What do you think?
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