One would assume that Mecca is a city of religious purity and traditionalism. However, a visit to the holy city a couple of years ago led me to the astonishing realization that the troops of globalization have reached not only the Saudi Kingdom, but the cradle of Islam as well.
The black silk was cold and soft. The protruding layers of thread that spelt out "Allah" in neat Arabic curls absorbed the tears and prayers sprayed at the cloth's delicate font, while still reflecting the flood of light that shone from looming construction cranes and endless spurts of cell phone flashes.
The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing.
Saudi Arabia needs a total paradigm change and analysis of the entirety of its Hajj operations and oversight, including all engineered and administrative control mechanisms.
What is truly needed likely cannot be fixed with just a few minor tweaks, but will require a fundamental re-think on what constitutes a successful Hajj.
Hundreds of people died on Thursday in a stampede in the city of Mina.