The Hajj season is truly bursting in the streets, markets of this Blessed and Radiant City.
The numerous tiny trinket shops, many with less than 2×2 meters of space to stand inside seem to be the most popular destinations for the Hujjaj to buy gifts to take back home. Most items are SR2 –SR 10, and even cheaper if bought in bulk.
These small booths appear only during the Hajj season….usually selling more of the same, along with fresh fruits, and the popular assortment of hats, scarves and tasbihs, etc.
The minaret of Masjid Ali behind the fence and lengths of steel being lifted by one of the hundreds of cranes doing their elegant dance across the skyline within the dense first ring road area.
Pilgrims relax and mingle around the Aswaq Al-Haram, the two story market area on the southern edge of the courtyard. The pavement vendors spread their sheets vying for sales with the long row of shops. Seconds after taking this as I looked up this area was empty! Once the word is instantly passed around that the inspectors are hovering about, the street vendors hurriedly bundle up their stock and run for it. I have seen many caught over the years, the men taken away, the items confiscated with the possibility of being deported if they are illegal. Many being mere lads have been in tears, I guess it is the risk they take in trying to make money while the crowds are about.
The shop to the left is typical of the food outlets immediately around Haram. The usual fare is chicken shawama, although with the recent bird flu scare this has now become scarce and many are wary of eating it. Individually wrapped slices of a simple pound cake, small packets of biscuits, assorted cold drinks, tea and coffee are the staple offerings. For the majority who are in groups that do not supply the daily meals this is a meager selection. Many who are housed further away from the main CBD area have more variety of foods to choose from, with various nationalities setting up small takeaway/eating places…Pakistani, Turkish, Bangladeshi, Egyptian and Malay/Indonesian. Madinah, unlike Makkah has a limited variety of fast food places close to Haram….there is KFC, the local Kudo, Al-Baik and a few other smaller outlets. Further away Pizza Hut, Dominoes Pizza, Mc Donald’s, Hardees, and the local Tazij are to be found.
Imitation watches from SR5 are popular, small and light for gifts.
The inner arcade of Aswaq Al-Haram. Altogether there are four long rows of shops extending the entire length of the Haram courtyard. More temporary stalls are erected during the two peak seasons in the middle of this arcade. No opportunity missed in allowing markets to spring up, with as many as possible cashing in on the millions coming and going.
Looking down on one of the many Miswak vendors who establish themselves at the base of the many pillars in this area. These brothers are mostly Saudi, and many belong to a long chain of generation after generation in this trade. Some of the brothers are very old, patiently sitting day in and day out. During Salat time they simply cover their stock while they walk across the courtyard for prayers.
The pre-wrapped bundles of miswak are easy to purchase for giving, but it is not the best quality. The long fresh pungent twigs are the best. These can be brought as they are, without having them cut, then wrapped in plastic, and kept in a refrigerator while you may have access to one in your rooms….once back in your home country you can then cut into lengths for giving or storing… they can be frozen until needed. The bubble vacuum packs are also good for bulk buying….each individually wrapped stick keeping its freshness far better than the bundles which they keep soaking in water, leaching all the freshness out and leaving the stick very brittle.
This is the main entrance to the Shariah Court, on the other side of the road opposite the Aswaq Al-Haram. This door directly faces the Dome of Felicity, with the souk in between.
From the second floor of the Aswaq looking south towards Makkah. The corner of the Shariah Court on the left.
(Apologies…the net connection is ever so cantankerous, which is sort of contagious to this speck clicking here….Insha’Allah, when both net and speck are back to being reasonable I will insert some comments…meanwhile, pretend you are here… )
Above comments added day after posting.
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. May He accept our humble efforts and grant us the capacity to be good and do good. Ameen.