Saudi’s cube-shaped project lands in controversy over ‘replicating Kaaba’

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“The Mukaab” — a huge cube-shaped structure project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given rise to controversy on social media platforms for its resemblance to the ‘Kaaba’ which is Islam’s holiest site in Makkah.

The controversy began after Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, announced the launch of the New Murabba Development Company on Thursday, February 16, which aims to develop “the world’s largest modern downtown in Riyadh”.

The huge golden cube, which has a capacity of 20 buildings the size of New York’s Empire State Building, plans to integrate residential units, entertainment spaces, hotels and restaurants into the city of the future.

However, the design caused an uproar online due to its cubic shape, with many saying it was an attempt by the Saudi authorities to take the focus away from the Kaaba in Makkah.

Some people allege that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is building “a separate Kaaba for himself, which is for entertainment.” 

“Is Mohamed bin Salman building his own Kaaba in Riyadh? This is the design he has chosen for his latest project; a new “Kaaba” of entertainment!! Surely only a wretched individual would choose a holy design for such an unholy purpose!!” Author, Chairman of Almustakillah TV, Dr Mohammad al-Hachimi al-Hamidi, who is a PhD from the University of London tweeted.

“When Bin Salman stood on top of the holy Kaaba in Mecca in 2019, it was almost symbolic of his intention to subjugate the Islamic influences in #SaudiArabia. Today he has embarked on another symbolic challenge in announcing plans to build a new ‘Kaaba’ of entertainment”, Sami Hamdi, a commentator on MENA, tweeted.

Intercept reporter Murtaza Hussain joined in questioning the choice of design, saying, “Building a new Kaaba exclusively devoted to capitalism is a little too on the nose.”

The user also claimed that Saudi Arabia tries to minimize reverence and respect for other buildings by creating such structures.

“It appears [the crown prince] is building his Kaaba. Will he enforce it as the new qibla for worshippers?” another tweeted.

However, other social media users, including those from Saudi Arabia, responded to the criticism. “Why are foreign Muslims so easy to manipulate?” asked one user.

“If every cubic-shaped building is ‘a new Kaaba’, you will find millions of kaabas in Riyadh, because we have a lot of cubic-shaped buildings.”

As per a report by Arab News, in July 2006, a story in Arabic was shared that someone is deliberately mocking Islam by building another Kaaba in New York, only the cube-shaped building will not be not for the God-fearing devotees, but a 24-hour nightclub 24/7 which – according to translated stories – would be “Makkah” for visitors to New York.

Later it became clear that the building was neither a nightclub nor a replica of the Kaaba. It was, however, the iconic cube-shaped Apple flagship store on New York’s 5th Avenue.

Because earlier images showed that the glass sides of the cube-shaped shop covered with a protective black layer caused an absolutely false story to spread like wildfire, due to the colour resemblance of the actual Kaaba.

“There’s a fascinating plot twist when you compare the two stories – the Apple Store versus The Mukaab. In the second, the land of this so-called diabolical plot is no longer “the infidels” United States of America, but the Kingdom which is the cradle of Islam,” Arab News reported.

It is reported that the reasons for these claims are, of course, an attempt to discredit and cast doubt on the huge and impressive reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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( With inputs from )

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