STEP BACK IN TIME
Historic sites around the Great Mosque have been overrun by centuries of expansion and commercialization, so it can be difficult to find authentic glimpses of Makkah’s past. Many Saudis openly lament that fact; local businessman Adel Hafez did something about it. Hafez converted a tract of land in the al-Zahir district into Harrat Makkawiyyah, an inspired reimagining of how Makkah looked in the 1930’s, and Hafez opens the site to the public several times a year for colorful throwback carnivals. You’ll find a warren of traditional Makkah-style houses and shop fronts for blacksmiths, grocers, cobblers—even a retro photography studio. To add to the authentic look and feel, the entire affair is decked out with antiques from Hafez’s family collection, from a 1900s movie projector to a vintage icebox. In the courtyard, dozens of stalls sell food from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, India, Thailand, and Egypt—a microcosm of the Muslim diaspora that’s congregated in Makkah for more than a millennium.
Harrat Makkawiyyah is a 15-minute drive northwest of the Conrad. Ask the concierge if it’s running during your visit; the carnival usually operates for a month at a time during Ramadan, the hajj, and over school vacations, usually from 5 p.m. to midnight each evening.
HARRAT MAKKAWIYYAH: Alnozha St., opposite al-Diyafah Mall, al-Zahir