Saudi comes over all Dubai: bulldozing ancient sites for shiny new giant mosque
The label ‘Hajj-Vegas’ was bandied around at this year’s holy pilgrimage as the faithful reported that Islam’s most important city was sprouting coffee chains faster than you could say ‘chai tea latte.’ But until now, there was no concrete evidence for how widespread the desecration was.
This week British newspaper, ‘The Independent’ published an official report on how many ancient Islamic monuments had been demolished by the Saudi government in favor of more glitzy modern buildings. According to research by the Gulf Institute in Washington, 95% of Mecca and Medina’s historic sites have been destroyed in the last twenty years.
Among the sites at risk from the Saudi bulldozers, is the grave of the Prophet Mohammed, which sits next to the Nabawi Mosque. The mosque is set to expand at a rate of knots as part of the ambitious plan to build the world’s largest place of Muslim worship and the work will begin as soon as the Hajj season ends.
Khadijah’s house also faced demolition, when the Kingdom’s government decided to replace the Prophet’s wife’s home with public toilets.
The report has hit the Saudi government hard as they are seen as the guardians of these most important Islamic sites. But as patrons of the holy cities, they are also clearly keen to rake in the financial benefits and luxury hotels are more profitable than historic monuments.
According to ‘The Independent’, the predominant Wahabi ideology in the Kingdom is to blame, as hard line Wahabis believe visiting shrines and archeological sites promotes polytheism. But locals living in the two holy cities are less than impressed at the destruction of their towns. Particularly disgruntled were those driven out of their homes to make room for the new super-fast train lines.
The report has already provoked disgust from Muslims around the world who consider safeguarding the ancient Islamic sites of the utmost importance. Perhaps their reaction will halt the bulldozers, at least temporarily.
What do you think about the demolitions? Are you happy with more shopping malls and fewer historic sites? Share your thoughts below.