Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Monday, October 19, 2009

New super-hotel to cheapen the Hajj?

The Makkah Clock Tower Royal Hotel

The Makkah Clock Tower Royal Hotel

An under-construction super-luxurious hotel in Mecca has raised fears that the hajj which is meant to involve hardship, struggle and sacrifice will be cheapened and instead become the preserve of the super-rich

The pilgrimage to Mecca traditionally see Muslims travelling to the holy site, forgoing worldly possessions, thoughts and activities in order to focus on their faith. However the Makkah Clock Tower Royal Hotel, part of the seven tower Abraj Al-Bait Complex, will give those who can afford it creature comforts whilst they perform the fifth pillar of Islam.

Boasting the world's largest clock (4.7 times larger than Big Ben) on each side, the 1,591 ft tall hotel will be among the world's second tallest tower. Estimated to cost USD$3 billion, the hotel will feature 24-hour butler service, segregated gyms, beauty parlours, grooming salons, a spa and a chocolate room where chefs will prepare bespoke pralines and truffles.

The hotel will be managed by Fairmont Hotels who are keen to make the hotel the most luxurious hotel in the Hoyl City. Speaking to Arabian Business, Mohammed Arkobi, the hotel's manager, said the hotel will be at the centre of the seven tower complex located opposite the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, occupying a space equal to 15.6 million square feet.

Abraj Al Bait

The hotel will have 76 elevators and 1,005 guest rooms and suites. It will have five "Royal" floors and two "Golden floors", the latter referring to Fairmont Gold, the company's exclusive "hotel within a hotel".

"The golden hotels have their own reception, check-in and lounge," said Arkobi. "The royal floors are just that - royal. They are like palaces, with some suites 1,200 square metres and one suite which is 3,600 square metres."

When asked by The Guardian how this level of luxury would help pilgrims achieve spiritual fulfilment, Arkobi was unable to answer. Nor was he sure how the hotel complemented the hajj. However he did say the hotel would meet the needs of the most 'discerning' pilgrim.

"Ultimately, the hotel's sophisticated ambiance, our range of features and highly personalised service delivery such as those offered through our 24-hour butler service will help to ensure that our residents' overall experience will be enriching."

Hajj is a pilgrimage that every able bodied Muslim is obliged to make at least once in their lifetime. After a Muslim makes the trip to Mecca, he or she is known as a hajj or hajja (one who made the pilgrimage to Mecca). Around 4 million people visit Mecca for hajj, with millions more passing through the rest of the year. Numbers have been increasing year on year with estimates for future numbers ranging from 10 million to 20 million.