A Prayer for Mecca: the city that many hajj pilgrims don't see

A film presented with CULTURUNNERS and the Guardian for their Crossing the Line series, documenting Ahmed's epic five year journey inside the heart of Islam

Through film, artefacts and photography, Ahmed has documented the history and transformations reconfiguring Islam's holiest city.

In the city of Mecca, a new future is being drawn up. Its contours are becoming visible amidst a landscape teeming with initiatives - from the most public to the most private - aimed at developing and reinventing seemingly fixed rituals, states and assumptions; culminating, perhaps, in the re-imagining of life at the centre of the Islamic world.

This film tracks Ahmed and his engagement with the place, a symbolic city. He explains:

"In Saudi Arabia today, contemporary models of urban development based on imported developmental know-how have become the starting point for a host of proposed new cities. For the most part, each will be constructed on a social and historical tabula rasa. Mecca presents an alternative dialogue between plan and reality. Like few other 21st century cities, it is rooted in a complex and highly emotive context in terms of its historical, geopolitical and religious symbolism. It is both one of the most visited places on earth and one of the most exclusive, and yet it is in flux, it moves, grows and invents itself again."

The film accompanied Ahmed's exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

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