"Close to Mecca's Grand Mosque and the glitzy 5-star hotels surrounding it lie slums whose mostly immigrant dwellers fear they will be evicted to make way for new high rises and malls. In one such slum on Jabal (mount) Omar, humans, cats, lizards, and mosquitoes co-exist among piles of garbage, with sewage running openly along the narrow tracks on the rugged hill. Children and old men in rags move about idly among the cracked adobe buildings.
Saleh says many of the people living on Jabal Omar have been there "for 40 and 50 years. They are used to it... They could live nowhere else." He points at a thick cable running along the ground where a stream of sewage is flowing. "This is the electricity we get," he says. "As for water, we haven't had any in about two months."
The residents of this and other poor neighbourhoods across the holy city fear only one thing: a plan by Saudi authorities to demolish the whole area to give way to modern developments. "I rent the house I'm living in now for 1,000 riyals ($267 dollars/210 euros)," said Abu Ali. "If it's gone, I wouldn't be able to find another apartment for less than 2,000 riyals. That's my whole salary."" (thanks Basim)