Illegals in Saudi Arabia's Makkah market district refuse to leave

Illegal residents of an unplanned Makkah neighborhood do not want to leave their homes because of a market they run. (AFP)

Illegal residents of an unplanned Makkah neighborhood do not want to leave their homes because of a market they run, despite ongoing demolition and redevelopment work in many of the holy city’s districts.

Several residents said it has become difficult for authorities to demolish the Hosh Bakr area, in the Al-Mansour district.

The moment the supervisory authorities’ teams leave, residents start setting up stalls displaying home furniture, electrical appliances and spare parts, Makkah Daily reported.

Workers in the market, most of whom are from African countries, said their status is legal and that Hosh Bakr is their only source of income.

They said they do not see anything wrong in buying and selling.

Meanwhile, some of the residents of Al-Mansour Street and districts neighboring the market expressed anger over the market, claiming illegal residents gather at this place and sell stolen goods.

Residents Hamid Al-Fahmi, Naif Al-Rouqi and Salman Al-Yami demanded authorities deal with the violations. They said residents are worried the area has become a haven for violators to gather from dawn till dusk.

Makkah Municipality’s Director of Urban Planning Administration Fayiz Kansarah said Al-Mansour district has been earmarked for development. However, demolition work has been delayed until next year because of procedures to expropriate properties, he said.

Kansarah agreed that Hosh Bakr is being exploited by illegal residents, adding they have converted it into a market that has remained open for several years now.

He added that there was a need for a committee with representatives from the police, municipality and Civil Defense to tackle the issue of deserted houses in order to speed up redevelopment.

The work of such a committee would complement campaigns being carried out by the municipality and the police in confiscating illegal goods being sold in Hosh Bakr.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014.

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