Having said that, there are two (maybe three) major malls just outside the mosque. They can be easily seen as you get out of Door No. 1 (Bab Al-Malik Abdul Aziz). Distinguishing one mall from another can be a challenge, as the buildings are constructed very close together. Furthermore, they are often interconnected with other buildings via bridges or underground walkways.
My favourite mall of them all is undoubtedly Abraj Al-Bait Mall. It is located at the foot of Abraj Al-Bait Towers, the home of the giant clock. What is it about the mall that makes me like it so much? Everything.. the ambiance, the crowd, the shops.. everything I saw reminded me of malls in KL, making me feel right at home.
|Mosque on the left. Malls on the right. Which way do you want to go?|
|Abraj Al-Bait Towers and the biggest clock in the world.|
|Let’s enter my favourite mall!|
|Modern and shiny, just the way I like it.|
|And it has Starbucks!|
By the way, I had Starbucks in Madinah, right in front of Masjid Nabawi. Then again Makkah, in this mall, just several steps from Masjidil Haram. Therefore, I totally don’t understand why Malaysian Muslims are so obsessed about boycotting Starbucks. If it is so wrong for Muslims to drink Starbucks, I’m sure the Saudi Arabian government would never let them do business, let alone in the holy land.
|So yes, one caramel latte please!|
As I was happily wandering the mall, suddenly the shops started pulling down their grills, one after another. It was in the middle of the afternoon, why did the shops close so early? Then I heard the guys in the shops saying to each other “Solat.. solat..” Oh, it was time for solat! All shops would be close for a while, so I headed to the top floor where the food court was, sat there and waited.
|KFC and Hardee’s were some of the earliest to close.|
|People waiting at the top floor for business to resume. At the lower floor, grills were pulled halfway to keep customers out.|
|I peeked down the balcony and saw this amazing sight. At the concourse, people performed solat jamaah, together with those at Masjidil Haram.|
|Done performing solat, back to business as usual.|
|Ladies, watch out.|
|Shopping to the left. Al-Haram to the right. Make the right choice, literally!|
My choice for the day? Easy. It was my time of the month :-p