As part of the huge expansion project for Haram, heavy construction work is going on in and around this area, making it much difficult to walk around.
Moreover, photography in Saudi Arabia is a tricky affair. You are prohibited to take photos of women not related to you. In such a crowded place like this, it is hard to have a bigger canvas without at least one Purdah clad women caught in the frame. It is also prohibited to take photos of mosques and official buildings (which are sometimes hard to notice and may fall somewhere in the background).
I had two cameras with me; a very compact one and a big SLR one. I could slip in both of them into the Haram without getting caught at the security checks. But using them wasn’t easy. Many pilgrims were taking photos using their mobile phones and compact cameras and I also took lots of photos using the compact camera. The officials on duty were polite whenever they noticed it and their warning was limited in saying “Pilgrim, please don’t do it”.
But the big camera was almost useless here, as it invited immediate attention. Once an official almost had the camera confiscated and after that I never took it into any mosques.
Today we spent most of the time in and around Haram and my brother also showed some of the biggest shopping malls close to Haram. The malls here had all the international brands and it was curious to watch most of the food outlets having two separate sections for men and women.