Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mecca Becomes "Las Vegas"

Via Women's Power Book:

People in Mecca have given their city a new knickname, which is not meant as a compliment.  They have started to refer to the place as "Las Vegas", after the American city full of skyscraper hotels and conspicuous materialism.  From The Independent:
Over the past 10 years the holiest site in Islam has undergone a huge transformation, one that has divided opinion among Muslims all over the world.
Once a dusty desert town struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of pilgrims arriving for the annual Hajj, the city now soars above its surroundings with a glittering array of skyscrapers, shopping malls and luxury hotels.
To the al-Saud monarchy, Mecca is their vision of the future – a steel and concrete metropolis built on the proceeds of enormous oil wealth that showcases their national pride.
Note that last paragraph.  When you buy gasoline, this is where some of your hard-earned dollars end up.  I would think that the encroachment of big business on Islam's holiest site would be frowned upon, not just by the people but also by Saudi Arabia's theocratic government, but as it turns out, I would be wrong.  Also from The Independent:
The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca's millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone.
The destruction has been aided by Wahabism, the austere interpretation of Islam that has served as the kingdom's official religion ever since the al-Sauds rose to power across the Arabian Peninsula in the 19th century.
The destruction being referred to here has been done to make room for these new buildings, some of which ominously overlook the mosque that contains the Kaaba, as seen in the picture in the Women's Power Book article, linked above.  Instead of being opposed, the transformation of Mecca appears to have the full blessing of their theocracy.  Read the full story at The Independent.

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