Despite all the construction going on and most part of the mosque being closed, there was always something to be discovered. Over the time period of 9 days we stayed there, we saw quite a lot of things; some interesting, some a bit disturbing.
We used to enter Haram from the gate between the Clock tower and Makkah Hilton. Bab-e-Fahad’s side entrance would be infront of us. In the outer piazza, green barriers and white blocks are used to mark off praying areas and the walkways. If someone tries to stand on the walkway, the security persons would be heard yelling “yalla, tareeq, tareeq” meaning “move ahead, this is the walkway”.
Ablution areas have been built in the piazza. These are for ease of the people coming for prayers. The ablution area for men is open from all sides, while the ones for women are partially covered. Partially in the sense that the ehole ablution area is visible from the entrances, hence not really practical for women, especially those who observe hijab or niqab. They are also open from the top, and with the live transmission going on, 24 hours a day, it isn’t really practical for women to perform ablution in these areas. Most disturbing of all, men and women both are seeing using both areas, together.
Wifi routers are set up on the ablution areas, with free wifi for the people visiting the mosque. With the large number of people, it is an achievement if you are able to get an IP address. I couldn’t connect even once there :S.
When it is too hot, specially at Zuhr time, fans in outer piazza and in streets nearby continuously spray water to keep the temperatures down. It is pretty helpful as usually humidity is low in Makkah. The constant spray is soothing and even mesmerising to observe.
Storage lockers are also built near the outer boundary of Haram. I haven’t seen people actually using them, but there must be someone out there who stores stuff in these lockers. There are too many of them built there.