Most of the area around Masjidil Haram has been cleared for redevelopment. In front of the main gate, Gate 1, (also known as King Abdul Aziz gate), however, had four new towers – the Safwa, the Zam-Zam twin towers and the Hilton Tower. All these towers had residences and shopping complexes built into them, all being very expensive. These Towers even had KFC, Starbucks and Baskin Robbins. What irony. Products and companies from the so called satan country proudly standing tall and looming over the Masjidil Haram. I found it really humiliating. Every time I pass through the area, I can almost see Uncle Sam sniggering at us. I can almost hear him say “I had your balls even at your holliest place!” To top it all, everywhere you see Pepsi and Coke being sold. Such is the strength of the grip people even had Pepsi and Coke for breakfast. Even the most popular plain water (no, not air zam-zam of course, but it is called Purifina) is bottled by Pepsico. Where is the Mecca Cola or Zam-zam Cola? That would give you some measure of the strength of the American culture on Muslims in Mecca.
On busy days, I would prefer to use the basement level where it is relatively easy to find a space, even if you are late. Somehow the basement is popular with the south Asians and not many of the middle eastern people would venture down there. It is peaceful because there is no cell phone coverage. You do not hear the irritating ringing of the phones as it is on the ground, first and top floor. But of course you cannot see anything but the tiled walls around you. It can be quite claustrophobic.