Accommodations in Mecca

Do high rise buildings take away the holiness of Mecca?

English Lesson - MeccaMillions of people visit Mecca each year. Some come during the Hajj and others visit for Ramadan. Mecca is the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad. It is also the place where the Quran was written. Able bodied Muslims are expected to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime. According to the BBC News video Is Mecca looking like Manhattan,┬áthis pilgrimage is not what it used to be. Introduce your students to the growing concern about the reconstruction of Mecca by showing them the BBC video. As you’re watching, ask your students to listen to the speaker’s pronunciation. They may find some words that are difficult for non-native English speakers to pronounce.

Here are a few questions to get your students talking:

  • What does “at an unstoppable pace” mean?
  • Why are locals “appalled” by what has happened at the heart of Islam?
  • Why was most of this video shot from a car?
  • Why was a mountain in Mecca exploded with dynamite?
  • What is the highest building in the city, and what does it resemble?
  • Do you think this transformation has been necessary in order to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims?

Here are some words from the video that students can practice pronouncing. Ask students to indicate where the stress goes for each word.

  • bulldozed
  • archeologist
  • appalled
  • comfortable
  • spiritual

“Over the past five years, Mecca witnessed a major change in its geography and landscape, which turned it into a complex of skyscrapers and luxury hotels.”
Ahmed Maher for the BBC

What is your opinion after watching this video? Is the holiness of Mecca at risk?

Our Famous Places section features a full-length lesson on Mecca. If your students are interested in discussing this place, be sure to print out this lesson.

Related Lessons in the ESL-Library about Historical Sites and Buildings

The Parthenon
Machu Picchu
The Taj Mahal

While our Something to Talk About suggestions are useful for getting your students involved in a group or pair discussion or debate, the topics, articles, and videos can also be used if you are looking for something for your students to blog/Skype/or write an opinion essay about.


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