Mecca redevelopment sparks heritage concerns

Story highlights

  • Saudi authorities have begun dismantling a historic Ottoman area of Mecca's Grand Mosque
  • A UK-based Saudi historian says the demolition is "cultural vandalism"
  • Saudi govt says it is expanding mosque to accommodate soaring numbers of Hajj pilgrims
  • Historian disagrees, says demolition is fuelled by Saudi religious beliefs
An Ottoman-era portico in Mecca's Grand Mosque has become the latest battleground in a conflict between those who want to preserve the city's architectural heritage and Saudi authorities pushing for redevelopment.
The 17th century portico -- one of the oldest parts of the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest -- is being removed by Mecca authorities as part of an expansion project to create more