Choose a city and imagine what it would look like if it was 95% razed and rebuilt in the course of 20 years. Think about all the history and culture that would be destroyed.
This dystopian vision isn’t hypothetical. Rather, it’s happening in Mecca, the Saudi Arabian city to which faithful Muslims embark on an annual pilgrimage. Mecca has lost the vast majority of its historical and religious landmarks to development. Centuries-old cemeteries, the houses of important figures, the sites of battles, the earliest mosques, the birthplace of Mohammed — all are gone or critically endangered as bulldozers destroy the city to build skyscrapers, malls and infrastructure.