Angawi says Makkah developments threat to holy sites

Development in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is coming at the cost of the loss some of the most important sites of the holy city, according to historians

Islamic architecture expert Sami Angawi says many Saudis see their culture being demolished to give way to luxury hotels and malls.

Angawi said:  “Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers.”

Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, also hit out at what he called “cultural vandalism”.

He said: “We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it’s not too late to turn things around.”

Among the buildings set to be demolished are the old Ottoman and Abbasi sections of the Grand Mosque, the house where the Prophet Muhammad was born and the house where his uncle Hamza grew up.

Alawi said he hopes the international community will finally begin to wake up to what is happening in the holy sites of Islam.

He said: “We would never allow someone to destroy the Pyramids, so why are we letting Islam’s history disappear?”