3 years ago
Before modern travel sped up the journey, the pilgrimage to Mecca was a much more arduous one. A requirement for all able-bodied Muslims that can afford the trip, the pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest city has seen an influx of the faithful in recent years. In an effort to keep up with the millions of tourists and religious pilgrims, Saudi Arabia has poured billions of dollars into developing the Grand Mosque and the surrounding area. Writing for The New York Times, Basharat Peer details this building boom:
“It is a transformation that has been underway since the late 1970s when the wealth generated by the oil boom led Saudi monarchs to devise an ambitious plan to replace earlier Ottoman structures and to expand the Grand Mosque and its surroundings with Arab-style architecture. At a projected cost of $26.6 billion, the Saudi Binladen Group has led the efforts to increase the capacity of the Grand Mosque, adding new wings, prayer areas, escalators and hundreds of bathrooms. Before his death in 2015, King Abdullah ordered the installation of the world’s largest folding umbrellas in the piazzas outside the Grand Mosque, to shelter worshippers from the blistering sun as they offered prayers, read the Quran or simply basked in their proximity to this holy site. His successor, King Salman, announced plans to build a ring road, subways, and intercity trains to accommodate millions of worshipers.”
Part of this surge of development is the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, which offers suites with a view of the Kaaba, the center of the Grand Mosque. The luxury hotel’s Grand Royal Suite can cost up to $10,000 a night. The Royal Tower is the city’s first external structure to dwarf the Kaaba in height (by 46 times) and is the closest to the mosque’s gates ever built. Take a visual tour of the Grand Royal Suite in the Makkah Clock Royal Tower below. Learn more about the uptick in development projects in Islam’s holiest city here. Book the Grand Royal Suite here.