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Foreigners rename Makkah’s traditional neighborhoods

Foreigners rename Makkah’s traditional neighborhoods
This area in Makkah’s famous Al-Mansour district is renamed Schizo by African migrants in honor of a tribal chief who came and settled here long ago. (AN photo)

MAKKAH: Foreign residents of Makkah have started changing the traditional names of certain districts to remind them of their home countries.

Al-Mansour district is one of the oldest in Makkah and has carried this name for more than half a century. The majority of residents in this district are of African origin and have now divided the district into sections, giving each one a name to remind them of home.

A large segment of Al-Mansour was named Hosh Bakr (courtyard of Bakr). The place is named in honor of a Nigerian man named Bakr who was the first African resident in the area. Nearly everyone who lives in the neighborhood is of African origin.

This part of Al-Mansour district lies between high mountains and is famous for recycling scrap metal and manufacturing steel doors and windows.

The area is infamous for stolen goods and provides a safe haven for criminals. It is a common perception among residents of Makkah that Hosh Bakr is where a lot of illegal activity occurs. The area is also known for its black market.

Al-Mansour district has another section renamed Schizo in honor of an African tribal chief who was the first to live there.

Schizo was known for his strong physique and fierceness. It is rumored that in one of his angry fits, he killed his wife for no good reason. The area is known for its magicians, barbers and herbalists.

Souk Al-Juma (the Friday market) has become another renamed area in Al-Mansour district. The African community living there would gather after Fajr until Maghreb prayer.

They would sell all kinds of illegal goods including knives, daggers and firearms.  Also on sale are used clothes and shoes and second-hand electric appliances. According to residents, the market is doing good business.

The famous Al-Rusaifah district also has areas that have been renamed. Al-Zahareen area was renamed as the “Million Children” district.

Most of the children in this district are Africans who have specialized in begging and stealing. Young women would lure customers to the district, where they would be beaten and robbed.

Al-Nikasa district is populated by foreigners from the South Asian countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh in addition to Burmese who have been here for a long time.

The district has a big market on top of the mountain that cannot be reached by cars. The foreigners named it the Makkah International Market.

Contaminated and rotten foodstuffs are sold in the open here. There are also street doctors who will treat all kinds of illnesses without examinations, lab tests or x-rays. The district consists of South Asian dominated neighborhoods.

Al-Zihour (flowers) district is along the ring road in Makkah. It is inhabited by Asian foreigners who renamed it as “The Garbage District” because it used to be the municipal dump.

It is a place known for its brothels and illicit liquor. Many Saudis purchased land in this undeveloped district and built houses to rent out to foreigners in anticipation of possible compensation when these  buildings are demolished to make way for  some future projects.

Source: Arab News


Published: Feb 1, 2011 01:12 Updated: Feb 1, 2011 01:21