Mecca comprises unmatched characteristics on religious, historical, and cultural levels, which has earned it a special status for entire humanity. That is what drove the British Museum in London to hold the first exhibition of its kind under the title “Journey to the Heart of Islam” to explore the holy city.
The King Abdul Aziz Public Library represents the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this exhibition. The following report is about marketplaces, trade, and the several benefits that can be obtained in Mecca.
The spiritual significance of Mecca dates back to pre-Islamic era, for the city became a strategic center of trade more than 1,400 years ago. Here, where thousands came every year, trade witnessed a remarkable boom. Trade convoys used to come from all directions and in all seasons, carrying grains, spices, textile, perfumes, incense, precious stones, and others.
Mecca maintained this place after Islam as the number of visitors increased to hundreds of thousands then millions who all came to perform the hajj (greater pilgrimage) and umrah (lesser pilgrimage).
The Okaz marketplace has been the most famous for its enormous cultural and economic activities. There are, however, other prominent marketplaces inside or near Mecca like Dumat al-Jundal, Majna, and Zi al-Majaz. Mecca also boosts several new marketplaces that blend authenticity with modernity.
In Mecca, and especially around the Grand Mosque, there are hundreds of stores that sell carpets, rosaries, silverware, gold, incense, and souvenirs. There are also traditional marketplaces where visitors can buy all sorts of handmade goods and their modern versions that offer a variety of textiles, jewelry, perfumes, and others.
Pilgrims spend millions of dollars in Mecca every year. This money is solely dedicated to Mecca and its visitors who come to perform the pilgrimage and have all the other benefits the city offers.
Translated from Arabic by: Sonia Farid
Voice: Nadia Mayen