I have seen many Jews came to Makkah and Madinah as businessmen
"They have entered and invested many of the companies in Makkah and Madinah hotels," said Dr. Irfan al-Alawi.15 Februari 2021 23:08
Jamaah bertawaf di kompleks Masjid Al-Haram, Kota Makkah, Arab Saudi, Juni 2018. (Faisal Assegaf/Albalad.co)
Dr Irfan al-Alawi, a Makkah historian who was born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is very concerned about relations between his country and Israel has become closer in recent years, especially under the rule of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
Al-Alawi, the Executive Director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which based in Makkah, claimed there are many Jews who have come to Makkah and Madinah as businessmen.
"I have seen many Jews came there as businessmen and they came through. I think this is perhaps ignorance of the Muslim world who thinks that Israelis do not enter Makkah and Madinah," said Dr Irfan al-Alawi in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp on Friday last week. "They have entered and invested in many companies in Makkah and Madinah hotels."
As an origin resident of Makkah, what do you feel about Saudi-Israel relations?
In this situation, as you know Neom is the futuristic technology city in northwest Saudi Arabia which symbolizes the Crown Prince's plan to make the Kingdom's economy. Saudi Arabia denied the meeting which took place with Netanyahu who flew from Israel to the area of Neom.
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan clearly said there is was no such meeting. But the news leaked by Israeli media did confirm that there was a formal opening tie between the two countries and other contacts going back to the 1960s. This is the Yahud and Saud that was mentioned by Tahir Allauddin al-Gillani.
Of course, it is now inevitable that MBS (the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman) is trying to develop the ties like the Emirates have and it's no doubt that they will eventually allow the Israelis to come into the Kingdom once this futuristic city is opened. Of course, Israelis have entered Madinah before. They have invested in Madinah and Makkah in many hotels.
Is there any negative impact on Makkah and Madinah?
Yes, there are definitely negatives impact on Makkah and Madinah. As Israelis and American influences are changing Makkah and Madinah they are moving away from Sharia. I can give an example of the Oberoi Hotel in Madinah owned by Raj Oberoi, an Indian Hindu. He has chain Oberoi hotels in the Kingdom.
Of course, when he opened the hotel, he wanted to come into the holy city the authorities said we cannot allow you so, they brought a helicopter and he landed on the helipad and came down for the inauguration ceremony cutting of the ribbon.
The Israelis are trying to modernize Makkah, influences by giving Saudi Arabia an idea of gymnasiums overlooking the Grand Mosque, overlooking the Mosque of Rasulullah, having swimming pools. Makkah and Madinah should be away from this fitna, the sins. The area around the holy Mosques should be for worship and worship alone to be close with Allah and his Prophet. You will not find this anywhere near the Vatican the people visit there and do not find gymnasiums, swimming pools.
Yes, this is dangerous and it is of course Israeli and American influences that are moving in and closer to Saudi Arabia and joining hand in hand, that they are accepting everything with their ideas.
Of course, the expansion of the Grand Mosque was designed by non-Muslims architects based in Canada who do not have any idea how Makkah is or looks like but they designed it by computer technology.
Israel is well known for its advanced security technology. Have you heard or have evidence that the Saudi government is using Israeli technology for security measures in Makkah and Madinah?
I have been saying this for many years that Haram Sharif in Makkah and Madinah, the security was established, the cameras, the fingerprints are all operated by a company called G4S which is part of a British company as well as it has links with one of the leading security companies which is an Israeli subsidiary.
Facial recognition is established at the airports when one enters the Kingdom and is scanned the digital image is sent to Israel and America, and of course, it's very dangerous but the Muslim world continues not to act and stop this.
Saudi Arabia is thinking that they are providing security directly to the pilgrims for their safety but it is actually allowing the spying by the Israeli and American governments during the Umrah and Hajj seasons. We have to be aware of this and the Muslim world should be aware of this.
Have you heard Israeli Jews are visiting Makkah or Madinah?
I have yes. Many businessmen have visited Makkah and Madinah for businesses. They dress in suits and sometimes they come with traditional Saudi gear to sit and have their meetings.
One good example was a Russian born Israeli Jew who walked into the Prophets mosque, he took a selfie, and it went viral.
Let me assure you a Russian born Israeli Jew who entered the Kingdom. He followed the official procedures, received a visa from the Saudi Embassy. He entered and entered the kingdom using a valid passport. He declared himself as an independent Jew, a private citizen of Israel. Everywhere I go, I am an ambassador for Israel in my private capacity. So, this is of course rubbish.
He was an Israeli, he was a Jew. Therefore he entered the Kingdom, this is absolutely forbidden entering the Masjid Rasulullah or entering Makkah.
Besides destroying historical buildings in Makkah and Madinah, what are your concerns on modernization in Makkah and Madinah in the context of traditions and social norms?
My major concerns are the modernization of Makkah and Madinah, for example, they want to plant trees and bushes now around the haram Sharif in Makkah. This is one thing they are saying this is helpful for the environments and they want to install very large umbrellas in the courtyard to cover the pilgrims.
This is not right because one of the signs of the end of the time Makkah will become green. They are trying to modernize Makkah and also to make it greener. Haram Sharif does not need trees or umbrellas let the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet Mosque in Madinah remain as traditional as possible and let the people feel they are performing Umrah or Hajj as close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad without having modern technology.
The problem is that the more luxurious hotels, luxurious transports, the Saudis provide by listening to the Yahudis and Nasaras. This is the fault not only of the Saudi system; this is the fault of the Muslim ummah. Hajj and Umrah is not a holiday it is not a luxury. It is self-sacrifice to go and perform the rituals of Umrah and Hajj without luxurious surroundings this is sad facts that we are facing.
There were media reports which said Israeli racers participated in Dakkar Rally in Saudi Arabia last month. What is your comment about that?
It's not a shock and it's not a surprise. The worst is yet to come because as you know the Emirates have very close links with Israel. They come to visit during their holidays. This will influence MBS because the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi is a very close friend of MBS.
Therefore, they are in the same boat. Of course, it is very dangerous for the Muslim Ummah to have to see this. The relationship develops because it's not a relationship of friendship. It's a relationship which is going to destroy the Kingdom as they have destroyed Dubai and of course this is dangerous because of the western influences, they will bring along with them as in the Neom city which will allow luxurious beaches where women will be in bikinis, consume alcohol.