Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"A building boom in [Mecca's] sacred center has created a dazzling, high-tech 21st-century pilgrimage."

One of Locatelli’s photographs looks as if it were taken from the air, but it was actually shot from one of the highest points of the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, which houses a hulking hotel and shopping complex a few hundred meters from the gates of the Grand Mosque — 46 times taller than the Kaaba and crowned by a clock five times the size of Big Ben. Throughout the history of Islam, no other ruler built in such proximity to the Kaaba; certainly none built anything to dwarf it. In luxury hotels like the Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower and the Raffles Makkah Palace, views of the holiest site of Islam are marketed as the “Haram view” and “Kaaba view,” and a standard room can run anywhere from $1,500 to $2,700 a night during the hajj.