- Environment & Infrastructure
- Strategic consulting
- Specialist consulting
- The Living City
- Happold Consulting
The 25th October is the first day of Eid al-Adha in most of the Middle East. It occurs about 70 days after the end of Ramadan and is a very significant religious celebration in both the Sunni and Shia calendar as it celebrates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail in an act of obedience.
Also this is the time of Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the fifth pillar of Islam, and something that has enormous regional significance. While the Hajj is associated with the life of 7th century Islamic prophet Muhammad, the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim).
Rituals of the Hajj
The Hajj pilgrimage is a religious duty that all Muslims must carry out at least once in their lifetime. Every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, during which they are required to perform a series of ritual acts which re-enact Abraham’s original pilgrimage to Mecca. Every pilgrim must walk seven times counter-clockwise round the most sacred site in Islam, the cube shaped building Kaaba. They must also travel seven times between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drink from the Zamzam Well, travel to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, and perform a symbolical ritual of stoning the devil in the nearby city of Mina. Once these sacred rituals have been carried out a Hajj pilgrim will shave their head, and sacrifice an animal, before celebrating the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.
Infrastructure for the Hajj
Our business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributes significantly to the development of the infrastructure around the Hajj. Buro Happold’s Haramain rail stations work provides world class stations on the high speed line between Medina and Mecca, transiting through Jeddah, and our environmental management team working on Jeddah Airport is supporting the development of this gateway to the Hajj. In addition we have undertaken numerous modelling assessments around people flow for the Hajj, studied bridges for their adequacy and we have also looked at a wide range of planning studies around Mecca and Jeddah.
In our own quiet way we are working hard to support the evolution of one of the most important social and religious events in one of our key markets. Our involvement in designing the physical infrastructure, protecting and preserving the environment and assessing how people interact with the environments is almost a perfect microcosm of what we do. We have also looked at the development of the area directly around the Kaaba with our teams located as far afield as Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
It just goes to reinforce how critical our work is to the markets we serve. Eid and the Hajj are all about reflection and we are justifiably proud of the contribution we make to society in this part of the world.
Building on the future of the Middle East
We are delivering an astounding array of work today with fantastic collaborators and visionary clients; indeed the breadth of endeavour is stunning. We are playing an integral part on some of the most amazing projects and their teams here, and as we move towards 2013 it’s becoming clear that we are heading back to an era where high quality design is truly valued which is fundamental to the Buro Happold ethos. The region has spectacular ambitions, and schemes like the 2022 World Cup, M’Sreib, Riyadh Metro, numerous airport projects and the cultural agenda will continue to provide a platform for us to engage with the local markets.
Our commitment to delivering the best engineering in the region was endorsed this week when, for the second year running, we won the Engineering Company of the Year category at the prestigious Middle East Architects Awards. The judges’ comments included “Buro Happold is the design led business that the world’s best architects want to work with.” What’s helped us to build up this reputation is collaboration - delivering high quality work with many architectural practices, client organisations and governments throughout the region.
So at this time of celebration, wherever you are, thank you for your continued support and “Eid Mubarak.”