By Sami Angawi
Architect Sami Angawi on Mecca, modernism and Al Mizan
People ask, are you a traditionalist or are you a modernist? I say there is no such thing in my way of
It is all using what you
need to serve what is needed from the functional, from the social, from the environmental
and so on. When talking about al mizan we say what are the factors, and what are
the weight of those factors.
It’s not a question of
glass being modern and wood being
traditional. It is using, by al mizan, how much glass you need
for this, and how much wood you need for that.
This is art, this is science. You work with cultures and with your mind.
The word al mizan is the tool of balance, it is the scale to weigh things with.
A mixture is what the
Hejaz is. If you take the food, or the clothes, whatever,
we are composed from different races.
But it is not a melting
pot, that is a very different concept. The
melting pot is where everything becomes one, whereas in Hejaz
everyone keeps his personality and gives away a little bit to the other.
You can say: “Oh this is originally Indian” or “This is originally
Syrian” but you see it in Hejaz. It is a mixture
and we hope to keep that. It is needed for Saudi Arabia and for the whole human
What is going on in Mecca and Medina
is wrong. It’s unsuitable from every aspect.
Mecca is a sanctuary,
it is not a city.
They have proven everywhere
else in the world that the most valuable parts of the city are the old parts, so
there must be something wrong either with that fifty years of experience, or with
The load is on us, as
architects and planners, because people are not listening yet. We need to advise
them on what to do.