March 16, 2007

Turning Mecca into another mecca

Definitely a sign of the times... turning the holy city of Mecca into a mecca of shopping and indulgence. It's not enough that the luxury five-star hotels surrounding the site of the Kaaba make millions off the pilgrims who come to enjoy the ultimate religious experience in the most liberal ways. It's not enough that one has to enter the city with "tour operators" that charge outrageous amounts, in addition to the high costs of applying for a visa to preform the hajj and umrah trips. Now, Saudi officials have embarked on plans to open huge shopping centers housing the best the West has to offer, from coffee to couture. The sanctity of Mecca is no more. Say hello to the white and green cups of Starbucks and the little blue Tiffany boxes... Farewell Mecca, the Saudis have sold you to the ...

Five times a day across the globe devout Muslims face this city in prayer, focused on a site where they believe Abraham built a temple to God. The spot is also the place Muslims are expected to visit at least once in their lives.

Now as they make the pilgrimage clothed in simple white cotton wraps, they will see something other than the stark black cube known as the Kaaba, which is literally the center of the Muslim world. They will also see Starbucks. And Cartier and Tiffany. And H&M and Topshop.

Full article available to NYTimes Select subscribers* or click here to read the full text.

*(which is now free for anyone with a .edu email address!)

Labels: ,


At 10:24 PM, Anonymous arianne said...

Have you ever seen Fatima in Portugal or Lourdes in France? They're both Catholic pilgrimage sites and their VERY commercialized now. Lots of overpriced trinkets and other goodies. If it weren't for the Virgin Mary, they'd just be lowly sheep herding villages.

Maybe this sort of thing is just inevitable.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger OmAr said...

Only when some thought that it's a shame that the biggest consumption icon in Jordan is called Mecca Mall! now the real Mecca will turn into a big mall!

but seriously, Starbucks near the Kaaba is beyond disgusting!

At 12:41 AM, Blogger Shy said...

It's a shame to see a holy place become so Commercialized. Theres a time and a place for things and Mecca should be left for worship alone.

At 8:01 AM, Blogger moi said...

arianne-- Of course people will want to take advantage of the influx of tourists to these sites, that is only natural. There are many shops and traditional suqs around the holy site in Mecca, but to have the government sanction this huge shopping complex seems a bit too much. It's not really natural at all, and it can be avoided if they really believe in the sanctity of this holy city. Thanks for your input!

omar--It really is disgusting... I wonder what's next.

shy-- Exactly, it's a place for worship. Investments can be made in other cities in the country.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home