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Atkins' masterplan for Mecca leaked to YouTube

A leak to You Tube has exposed consultant Atkins’ confidential masterplanning work for Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The confidential designs produced by Atkins show an Ottoman-era section of the Haram mosque replaced by a series of 80m high, multi-storey prayer halls, boosting capacity from 900,000 worshippers now to more than two million. The form of the prayer hall is designed to resemble worshippers in prayer.

A proposed second phase of development controversially envisages demolishing the old mosque and replacing it with a modern doughnut-shaped building, capable of accommodating more than 5M pilgrims. Only the Kaaba would remain.

Each year about 3M people take part in the main Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, often leading to chronic overcrowding which has resulted in thousands of deaths.

The Saudi royal family has embarked on a modernisation programme, the first phase of which could cost up to £13bn.

Earlier this month the Sunday Times revealed that architects Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid are involved in plans to transform the landscape around Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, to make way for a high-rise metropolis complete with high-speed rail link for pilgrims. Neither Foster nor Hadid were prepared to discuss their plans with the newspaper.

Atkins said it could not comment on the plans, as they remain confidential.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Do we need this project? Haj and umra are getting expensive each year and to a degree out of reach of ordinary poor muslim.It is no good to do things to boast or to claim we have it. Is there anybody in the kingdom to tell rulers that we do not need to convert holy cities inti high rise metropolis. Let us keep them simple and bring true islamic atmosphere in both the holy cities.
    Monies will be better spent not on creating sprkling concrete jungles but to betterment of whole humanity.

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  • Do we need this project? Haj and umra are getting expensive each year and to a degree out of reach of ordinary poor muslim.It is no good to do things to boast or to claim we have it. Is there anybody in the kingdom to tell rulers that we do not need to convert holy cities inti high rise metropolis. Let us keep them simple and bring true islamic atmosphere in both the holy cities.
    Monies will be better spent not on creating sprkling concrete jungles but to betterment of whole humanity.
    Ahmed

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  • A 'Master Plan' was prepared for Makkah and the Hajj in the mid-1970's by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Patrners in conjunction with a thoughtful and sensitive Saudi team. However, the proposed civil engineering road works ruined much of the sacred landscape, even removing a mountain in Muna. However, RMJM+P did recommend several conservation areas in both central and suburban Makkah, but it appears that much of historic central Makkah has now disappeared; witness the revolting Abraj al Bait of Bling. Importantly, early Islamic monuments such as the Prophet's school (under a road), his house and Khadijah's grave in Ma'abda have been destroyed; even possibly the Mosque of Bilal. Apart from Medina, they have removed all traces of the Prophet's presence in Makkah thereby reducing him to a virtual myth. Many of the fantastic Turkish houses with their wooden carvings, inscriptions and mashrabiyas have been demolished. Thus the urban + architectural history of Makkah is fast disappearing in the rush for property speculation disguised as the need for pilgrim accommodation. The destruction is compounded by the Wahabi fixation with 'shirrk' (worship of monuments). The current Saudi government continues to destroy Islamic architectural heritage and craftsmanship without thought except for money knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. They are certainly not behaving as Guardians of the Haramain. They don't even know what 'hajj' really means or signifies; they think it's a package holiday. Makkah is a very sacred place since Allah himself even signed the topographic landscape around the Sacred Mosqe with his own name in Arabic ! (This can be observed from the air at a certain time of day). The Saudis are using Zaha Hadid as a Muslim figleaf and mask; a trophy architect whose work has no roots in traditional Islamic architecture or urbanism. The Saudis need to reflect what the Hajj and Umrah are for and what is the nature and purpose of a pilgimage. . A true pilgrimage is for attaining wisdom by experience and reflection thereby helping towards salvation. It is about quality not quantity. At Makkah, Muslims desire to tread thoughtfully in the footsteps of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael and, most importantly, in the footsteps of the Prophet from Arafat and Muna to Makkah. They need to contemplate the Nafrah uder the night sky (walking from Arafat to Muna) and their significance. Makkah and the Hajj are central to Muslim history, narrative and experience; yet if the Israelis did to Jerusalem what the current Saudis are doing to Makkah then historic Jerusalem would not exist and there would be a world-wide violent jihad. Non-muslims ought to be very wary of participating in the Makkah project; they could be blamed for it as part of a conspiracy. Makkah is being destroyed under the noses and ignorance of the Muslims: it's time they woke up to the destruction of their inheritance. There is nothing Islamic about what's happening to Makkah.

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  • The comments are very true and factual. Modranisation does not mean to destroy the unique and precious foot steps of Prophat Muhammad Sal'lal'lahu aalayhy wasal'lam. By providing facilities to Pligrimar the real spirit of huj must remain, if by facility the Haj sprit is affactine we do not required. The Saudi governmant must ask from the Islamic scholar of the whole World, arrange debat and than get decide How and What need change. simple example that what Saudi governmant doing " is a man with fasting is feeding direct to his stomach by operation and by passing the esophages. To remove and reduce all the hardship of Haj , off course the Reward of Haj will reduce. If same why saudi government not fixing convear belt for people in " Sa'iee" Stop the extension till the islamic scholar of whole ummah agree upon it

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