Saudi Arabia prides itself on its generosity and care for the elderly. This is something that is visibly noticed as well. Yet at the same time there is a phenonemon rising in the Kingdom and especially so in Makkah…one of the holiest places in Islam. Due to the renovations and construction going on to enlarge and enhance the Grand Mosque (Haram) many apartment buildings and hotels have been torn down. As a result, thousands of individuals and families have been displaced requiring to find a new place to call home. Not surprisingly housing is at a premium and supply cannot meet demand. So what is happening? Many apartment buildings that have not been earmarked for destruction are being sold at top dollar by their owners. The new owners in turn are converting what had been unfurnished apartments into furnished equipped apartments which in turn are rented to umrah and hajj pilgrims to Makkah at premium rates. But the old time residents of these apartments, many whom had lived in the apartments for 20 years or more are told with little notice (less than 90 days) that they must vacate and find another place to live. These residents are comprised of families to include many who are widowed with or without children. Now they find themselves scrambling to find another place that is within their budget and have suitable schools for school age children.
What is this saying about Makkah? To me it is a contradiction in terms. The construction is taking place so more pilgrims can come to Makkah. But as a result, the construction is also causing many old time Makkah residents to be displaced with few affordable options.
Is this the start of the commercialization of Makkah where greed is replacing core values and ethics?