A huge expansion in Mecca has led to the destruction of key historical sites.
Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad in Hajez, Saudi Arabia, is being turned from a dusty pilgrimage town to a gleaming metropolis. Photo / Islamic Heritage Research Foundation
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have started dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam's most important mosque as part of a controversial multibillion-dollar expansion.
Photographs reveal workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
The building, also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba - the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba.
It would appear to me the making money has won out of history and that religion has taken a back seat to profit.
Although there is little disagreement over the need to expand, critics have accused the Saudi regime of wantonly disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam's two holiest cities.
In the past decade Mecca has been transformed from a dusty desert pilgrimage town into a gleaming metropolis of skyscrapers that tower over the Masjid al-Haram and are filled with shopping malls, luxury apartments and five-star hotels.