Experience the aesthetics of Ramadan in Makkah

Some districts in Makkah become crowded every year owing to sports events and other activities. AN photo
Updated 28 May 2018

Experience the aesthetics of Ramadan in Makkah

  • The citizens of many neighborhoods near the sanctuary, such as Al-Shubaikha, Al-Gemmezah, Al-Tundobawi, Jarwal and others, compete to serve pilgrims during Ramadan
  • The houses in Makkah during the holy month were painted on the inside and outside, welcoming Ramadan

MAKKAH: Makkah is famous for being a vibrant city throughout the year. Its long Umrah season, followed by the Hajj season, makes it a rich place visited by all nationalities from around the world. Makkah conforms to its culture, identity and profound heritage, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
If you want to experience the aesthetics of Ramadan, Makkah is a Saudi city that’s wonderfully diverse. Citizens of different races were brought together by their love for Makkah, which they have chosen as a residence. This has characterized its identity and satisfied its customs and social patterns, making it unique among Saudi areas and cities.
The Mayor of Rea Zakher neighborhood, Fahad Al-Harbi, observes many traditions and historical features in Makkah, some of which have died out while others are still ongoing. Al-Harbi speaks of old neighborhoods that surrounded the Makkan sanctuary, and how they contributed to the culture of sharing and cooperating and laid friendliness in a small geographical area, linking districts and population centers of different races and spectrums.
Al-Harbi says Makkah witnesses an increased activity during Ramadan, one of the great occasions that reflect the cultures of this city’s citizens and how they create their own happiness.
The work in ful, Sobia, Arabic sweets and other shops increases and their owners are friendly with people. All owners of specific food sell their products with pleasure and ease. They sing beautiful tunes they inherited while selling balilah, fried dumplings and soup.
Al-Harbi also tells about districts in Makkah that become crowded every year owing to sports events and witness the residents of one neighborhood bringing lights and drawing the lines of football and volleyball playgrounds. Tournaments are also held during Ramadan where the neighborhoods’ mayors give away trophies in the final games.
“The citizens of many neighborhoods near the sanctuary, such as Al-Shubaikha, Al-Gemmezah, Al-Tundobawi, Jarwal and others, compete to serve pilgrims during Ramadan. They give them water during breakfast, guide lost people and help the elderly to get to the sanctuary, and these are traditions the citizens of Makkah are proud of, while considering them their duties,” Al-Harbi added.
Businessman and engineer Amin Hafez noted that throughout the years, the royal neighborhood has maintained its cultural value which reflects the spiritual and heritage side of Makkah. In its districts, the citizens of Makkah meet pilgrims and get to know each other, establishing a great brotherhood and beautiful friendship.
Hafez said the royal neighborhood included models of Makkan houses, popular cafés, small shops, old cars that were used in the past and the Makkan heritage and architectural museum. All this diversity has made Ramadan nights in the city incomparable with any other cities: they are old neighborhoods that were linked to the Makkan sanctuary, some of which have faded away with the commitments of widening the Grand Mosque.
One elderly man from the Jarwal area near the Makkah sanctuary, Faleh Al-Moutaweh, told of many Ramadan traditions Makkah was renowned for but have died out. People have become busier with the widening of urbanism in Makkah.
In the past, the houses in Makkah during the holy month were painted on the inside and outside, welcoming Ramadan. Lights were used and sessions set in the streets near the houses where men spent their nights during Ramadan. The curtains, mattresses and cushions were cleaned, and two days before Ramadan, preparing red and white Sobia was a must.
Al-Moutaweh added that young men and women used to compete to serve pilgrims. They used to go to the Makkan sanctuary before the evening prayer, carrying Zamzam water and dates in beautiful pots. They would communicate with pilgrims in the languages they had learned and serve them yogurt and coffee for the whole holy month.

Karl Lagerfeld: Looking back at his rise to fame and love of Arabian fashion

The designer died at the age of 85 on Tuesday. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 19 February 2019

Karl Lagerfeld: Looking back at his rise to fame and love of Arabian fashion

DUBAI: As tributes pour in from across the fashion world over the death of industry icon Karl Lagerfeld, we take a look at his storied rise to fame, as well as his controversial comments on Middle Eastern migrants and his love of fashion from the region.

The designer died at the age of 85 on Tuesday after he failed to make an appearance at the Chanel show at Paris Couture Week in January, prompting industry insiders to question the state of his health.

Reuters reported that Lagerfeld enjoyed the stature of a deity among mortals in the world of fashion, where he stayed on top for well over half of a century and up to his death, at an age almost nobody apart from himself knew with to-the-day precision.

The German designer was best known for his association with France’s Chanel, dating back to 1983. The brand, the legend now goes, risked becoming the preserve of monied grannies before he arrived, slashing hemlines and adding glitz to the prim tweed suits of what is now one of the world’s most valuable couture houses.

But Lagerfeld, who simultaneously churned out collections for LVMH’s Fendi and his eponymous label — an unheard of feat in fashion — was almost a brand in his own right.
Sporting dark suits, white, pony-tailed hair and tinted sunglasses in his later years that made him instantly recognizable, an irreverent wit was also part of a carefully crafted persona.

“I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that,” runs one legendary quote attributed to him, and often recycled to convey the person he liked to play. “It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.”

Tributes pour in 

The world’s fashion elite took to social media to pay tribute to the hugely respected designer, with the likes of Victoria Beckham, Donatella Versace and Lilly Allen leading the pack.

Versace shared a similar message.

Singer Allen took to social media with a touching message.

Meanwhile, Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad also paid tribute.


In great honor and admiration of the iconic fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld - Rest In Peace

A post shared by Zuhair Murad Official (@zuhairmuradofficial) on

Model Gigi Hadid shared a message on Instagram Stories.

Controversial comments

His artistic instincts, business acumen and commensurate ego combined to commercially triumphant effect in the rarefied world of high fashion, where he was revered and feared in similar proportions by competitors and top-models.

Lagerfeld was as harsh with his fashion models as he was searingly critical of anyone he considered "not trendy".

He fired his closest female friend, former Chanel model Ines de la Fressange, in 1999 after she agreed to pose as Marianne, France's national symbol, without asking him first.

Occasionally his sharp tongue has stirred controversies, though he also had a flair for a good soundbite.

In 2017, he sparked outrage by evoking the Holocaust in an attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel over her opening of Germany’s borders to migrants.

“One cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place,” the 80-year-old Chanel designer told a French TV show.

“I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said: ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust’,” he added.

Middle Eastern inspiration

Despite the abrasive comments, the designer went on to release an Egypt-inspired collection in December 2018 and sent models down the runway in a rich array of Ancient Egypt-themed outfits at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Gold shimmered all over the runway, as models strolled past the floodlit temple in everything from gold thigh-high boots to gold brimmed hats to glistening dresses with golden feather adornments, to shoulder-length gold earrings.

Singer Pharrel walked the runway during Karl Lagerfeld's Egypt-inspired show in December. (AFP)

It isn’t the only time he has looked to the Middle East for inspiration, however.

The designer made a much-reported-on appearance in Dubai in 2014 when Chanel staged its Cruise collection show in the city.

That collection was inspired by an Orientalist vision of hazy Arabian nights and featured harem pants, ghutra-pattern-inspired coats and diaphanous jumpsuits, along with a heavy use of mosaic-style patterns.

Karl Lagerfeld photographed at ‘The Island’ in Dubai during the Chanel fashion show on May 13, 2014. (AFP)

In 2018, he worked with Lebanese architect Aline Asmar D’Amman on the renovation of Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon and, in a win for the Middle Eastern fashion scene, he photographed Bella Hadid for Vogue Arabia’s first September issue in 2017.

In rare moments when he was not working, Lagerfeld retired to one of his many homes in Paris, Germany, Italy or Monaco, all of them lavish carbon copies of 18th-century interiors.