Published — Monday 8 October 2012
Last update 8 October 2012 6:20 am
A NEW CITY honoring Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that is currently under construction — is located between Makkah and Jeddah on an area exceeding a million square meters — offers a harmonious and inspiring model for development. On one level of course, this is a commercial enterprise, as all property development is.
As such, it offers enormous benefits: It will provide employment for Saudis not only in the short term, but also long term, at virtually all levels of skill — from architects, planners and scholars involved in the original design, to the workers whose manual labor will construct the site, to those who will eventually find permanent employment in the hotels, restaurants, stores and cultural centers of the new city.
In fact, one might venture to state that there is no other commercial development whose benefits are as complex and long lasting as those of a new city. As scholars and city planners alike have noted, a city has distinct economy of its own. It becomes a specialized hub and a destination, with its own systems of commerce and trade. Once established, it can develop organically and thrive for centuries.
At the same time, of course, our new city has a higher meaning. It is not merely a commercial enterprise, but also a cultural and a spiritual one. It will be, in short, a living expression of Muslim life, faith and respect for our origins. At the heart of the new city there are plans for a comprehensive exhibition, gallery, museum, and a university honoring the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and presenting and recreating aspects of his life and times. Once completed, it will bring Islamic history and thought alive for potentially millions of visitors, functioning as a source of inspiration and knowledge.
It will be a spiritual center for our own people, and a fountain of knowledge for foreign visitors. Perhaps most importantly, the project will be interactive, allowing visitors to engage with rather than merely observe aspects of our sacred history. It is, at its core, a true labor of love, bringing to new life the most treasured aspects of our history and faith.
In short, it’s a truly inspiring project, and one that has the potential to promote peace, harmony, knowledge and understanding, along with its myriad practical benefits. This new life in an ancient land may provide inspiration for future projects.
— Dr. Alaa Alghamdi is an academic at Taibah University in Madinah
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