Wednesday 8 February 2017

A Towering Pride

Since the dawn of human civilization, dutiful followers of the Holy Scriptures have been making pilgrimages to Mecca where the sacred Kaabah is located. The stone cube structure now serves as the Qibla (prayer direction) by over 1.7 billion Muslims globally who wish to make at least once obligatory visit of their lifetime to the Holy Land. 

Due to the growing number of people visiting Mecca, the Saudi government rightfully decided to add more hotel rooms within the vicinity to accommodate the pilgrims. With the increasing wealth of the Saudis and the stiff competition to be the ‘greatest’ within the Arab world itself, we are seeing more of the world’s greatest property developments in the greater Mecca itself. 

Besides having the world’s biggest mosque to accommodate up to 3 million people during hajj time, the Saudis have built the Abraj Al-Bait complex in 2004, controversially levelled the 18th Century Ajyad Fortress, an Ottoman-era heritage, in the process. Majestically looming over the Holy Kaabah, this engineering masterpiece by Binladin Group costs USD15 billion upon its completion in 2012. Breaking over 30 world records, the massively lavish complex has 7 towers (each houses a 5-star hotel), 1.5 million square meters of floor space, 120 floors, 1,005 hotel rooms/suites, 76 elevators, with the world’s tallest clock tower at 601 meter and world’s largest clock face (5x larger than London’s Big Ben).

The view of the Holy Mosque from the crescent top which houses world’s highest prayer room at 592 meters

The construction of the Clock Face area

Hoisting the clock hand using helicopters

Due to its location within the vicinity of the Holy City, the world’s 4th highest free standing structure is out of bound for non-Muslims. As in the other skyscrapers, visitors will have the opportunity to get mesmerizing views of Mecca and the Kaabah from its Viewing Deck and Observation Deck. 

Currently not accessible to the public and until we are accorded a guided tour to check out the facilities once it is officially opened, let’s take a sneak peep at the Centre.

The soon-to-be opened ticketing counter at the tower concourse

The entrance to the Makkah Clock Exhibition & Viewing Deck

The Clock Exhibition

The Clock Exhibition

The Clock Exhibition

The Direction Signage

The Astronomy Exhibition

The Gift Shop

The Luggage Reclaim Counter

A recent check with Vista-Rasch GmbH, the German company which built the Astronomy Center and Viewing Deck, confirms that the Centre is operationally ready and will be opened to the public soon. 

Besides the Abraj Al-Bait, the Abraj Kudai Hotel, the world’s largest hotel, is another mega project being developed by Saudi’s richest man, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Barely a mile away from the Holy Mosque, this colossal hotel will eclipse Las Vegas’ hotels with its 12 towers, 10,000 bedrooms, 70 restaurants, 4 helipads and boast a total area of 1.4 million square meters. 

The Abraj Kudai Hotel

With these mega tall, superlative laden developments rapidly taking place there, it seems that the simple, humble ancient cube is in danger of coming under the penumbra of a ‘seven deadly sin’. Mecca, in all honesty, shouldn’t be a mecca of grandiosity.

Shared by Hasnan
Guest Blogger

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