Saudi people stand next to camels as they celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha at a desert in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Al Hwaity
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A few steps away from Mecca's Grand Mosque, a dozen empty towers rise into the sky above the holy city visited by millions of Muslim pilgrims every year. Hilton and Marriott logos adorn the site, heralding the $3.2 billion Jabal Omar complex being built to bring hotels, restaurants and luxury malls to the pilgrimage experience.Additionally, worshipping at shrines is considered idolatry under Saudi Arabia's austere official Wahhabi school of Islam and it is unclear which Islamic historical sites pilgrims might be lured to after years of neglect.The Saudi tourism commission has pledged to rehabilitate four sites in Mecca: Jabal al-Nour, Jabal Thawr, Hudaybiyyah and Mohammad's migration path from Mecca to Medina.Pilgrims comprise the bulk of Saudi Arabia's 20 million annual foreign visitors, apart from workers and business travelers.Joining it soon will be 40 new towers from the Jabal Omar development, begun in 2008, and the $3.5 billion Abraj Kudai complex, which will be the world's largest hotel and come complete with four rooftop helipads.
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