12 Towers, 10.000 rooms, 70 restaurants, a ballroom. It sounds like Las Vegas, and it does look like it from the outside. But the world's biggest hotel will be built in Mecca, Pilgrimage of strict Islamic Saudi Arabia.
The Abraj Kudai
Alcohol will not be served here, and the hotel won't accommodate a pool. However, there will be a mall, 4 platforms for guests who wish to come by helicopter, a full-size convention center. But most of all, a huge number of rooms. Which are housed in 12 towers standing on a pedestal. Salient detail: five floors are specially designed for the Saudi royal family.
Impression of a restaurant in the Abraj Kudai
The hotel, currently being built, is called Abraj Kudai. It cost 3.5 billion dollars, paid for by the Saudi Ministry of Finance. The whole building covers 1.4 million square meters and is located 2 km from the Masjid al-Haram, the holy mosque of Mecca.
Each year about 2 million people visit Mecca for the Hajj, the major pilgrimage for Muslims. The rest of the year the city attracts around 20 million visitors. And they all obviously need a place to sleep. Partly because of this, Mecca has been transformed into a construction pit in recent years.
Dozens of cranes dominate Mecca's skyline
Around the square where the Kabaa, the black cube where pilgrims as part of their pilgrimage walk around 7 times, luxury hotels are being built at a rapid pace. Like the Abraj al-Bait clock tower, the third largest building in the world, in which 1000 guest rooms are located. Prices run up to 5600 euros per night for rooms with the best views over the Kabaa. At night there are laser shows with green rays of light, the color of Islam.
the Abraj al-Bait clock tower
It's no coincidence that Mecca is sometimes jokingly compared with it's godless counterpart Las Vegas. Which currently hosts most of the world's largest hotels. for example, The Venetian with 7351 rooms, the MGM grand with 6852 and the CityCenter with 6790 rooms. Just like Vegas, the construction drift in Mecca is limitless. West of the city the Jabal Omar complex will be built, where 100,000 people can be accommodated in 26 luxury hotels. Besides hotel rooms, 4,000 shops, 500 restaurants and a six-storey prayer hall are located in the complex. Among the hotels there are western stores such as the Paris Hilton shop and a Starbucks.
History is lost
There is a downside to all these new buildings: it's at the expense of Mecca's rich history. Historical buildings are ruthlessly bulldozed. The former house of Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet, has made room to public toilets. The house of Abu Bakr, friend and father-in-law of the prophet is now the Hilton Hotel. The site the king's palace is located was once the house of Muhammad's grandson.
Everything is destroyed to make way for the luxury hotels popping up like daisies, which undermines the sanctity and historical value of the city and prices ordinary pilgrims out of the market.
The latter means that many Muslims can no longer afford the Hajj, because of the ever-rising prices. An average pilgrimage costs between $3000 and $4000, but often turns out to be a lot more expensive because of travel agencies.
What a room in the new Abraj Kudai hotel will cost, isn't known yet. But it certainly won't be a budget stay.
The images used in this post were not made by me