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Sun 8 May 2011 06:54 PM

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Saudi officials deny Makkah holy water is polluted

Authorities hit back at BBC report of high levels of arsenic found in water from well in holy city

Saudi officials deny Makkah holy water is polluted
ZamZam water from the holy city of Makkah.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have refuted a BBC report claiming that water from the Zamzam well in Makkah is polluted with high levels of arsenic.

The water has a special significance for many of those who go on pilgrimages to the holy city each year.

Zuhair Nawab, president of Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), said in comments published by Saudi daily Arab News that his organisation had taken measures to ensure the safety of Zamzam well and its water.

“Our experts monitor the condition of Zamzam on a daily basis. Every day we take three samples from the water to carry out tests and studies, which showed that it was not contaminated,” he told the paper.

Earlier this month, the BBC reported that holy drinking water contaminated with arsenic was being sold illegally to Muslims by UK shops.

It said that while pilgrims can bring back small amounts from Saudi Arabia, it cannot be exported for commercial use but an undercover researcher found large quantities of bottles being sold in east and south London, and in Luton.

"The water is poisonous, particularly because of the high levels of arsenic, which is a carcinogen," said Dr Duncan Campbell, president of the Association of Public Analysts in comments on the BBC news website.

But Nawaz told Arab News that the newly established King Abdullah Zamzam Water Distribution Centre in Makkah followed international standards when bottling takes place.

“We apply modern methods for filling bottles after sterilisation,” Nawab said.

He said the contamination of the water could have caused while redistributing the water in small bottles by individuals.

Fahd Turkistani, adviser to the Presidency for Meteorology and Environment, told the paper the BBC report focused on bottled water supplied by individuals and not directly from the distribution centre.

According to the World Health Organisation, the permitted arsenic rate in natural water is up to 10 microgram per litre. The amount of arsenic in Zamzam water is much less than the amount permitted by the WHO, he said.

The Saudi Embassy in London issued a statement affirming the purity of Zamzam in Makkah.

“Scientific tests conducted on samples taken from the original source have proved the Zamzam water is good for drinking,” it said, referring to tests conducted on the water at a French laboratory.

ABDULLAH 8 years ago

Where is the authenticity that the water these shops are selling are really ZAM ZAM

"BBC reported that holy drinking water contaminated with arsenic was being sold illegally to Muslims by UK shops." So the UK shops might be selling UK water.

"large quantities of bottles being sold in east and south London, and in Luton.". There is no clear evidence this is real ZAM ZAM.

BBC should first investigate properly, let one of their Muslim Reporter go to Makkah and do the proper report.

Saleem 8 years ago

Shame on BBC. The water is being sold in UK by UK shops so crack on them and investigate but these people don't let go the tiniest opportunity to defame anything that has anything to do with Islam. Sometimes it's fun to watch to what extent they can go and still manage to maintain their "unbiased" image.

Mujeeb 8 years ago

Zam zam water is used by million of people every day,but never ever find any such arsenic according to BBC Report.  But strict standard control is always required and I hope the conerned authorities are doing their job very well

Faysal 8 years ago

Salam all,
When I saw BBC report I had some concerns regarding selling Zam Zam holy waters cuz as far as we know as citizens of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia Zamzam water is not for sale. Anyway we could look at this issue from different aspects;
-As mentioned, the fear of Islam and the different ways to knock-out all sources of support especially MONEY.
-It might be pure coincidence where lead to such claims to unhide those whom used the name ZamZam to play with others health for their own benefits. I could see الله well to how uncover bad acts and wells.

I will say we might also add to above, we might have someone in the kingdom that provides water claiming it’s the holy one! All scenarios are open for thinking.

abdulhafeez sheikh 8 years ago

The holy water is not for sale . Most of the Musliums have themselves made this as trade whihc is Haram .The water being sold is not Zam Zam it may be having trade name as Zam Zam . I appeal all muslims btother not to make our Islam as Trade . Allh can give them a lot from other resources .


Farooq Maniar 8 years ago

The ZAMZAM water sample found containing high level of Arsenic was from a shop in UK and not from the ZAMZAM source. There could be a strong possibility that it may have been contaminated with the local UK water, containing higher level of Arsenic.
Some research is required although a lot has already been done previously by authorities, clearing ZAMZAM is the best water on this earth.
At the same time some controls are also required on the media which is trying to damage the sentiments of the Muslims.

Doug 8 years ago

Actually the BBC report merely stated that water 'supposedly' from Zamzam being sold in the UK contained arsenic.

The issue here isn't really anything to do with Islam - other than apparently, there are Muslims in the UK who believe this water is genuinely from the well and refuse to drink anything else. Perhaps you might want to chastise these delusional Muslims, and indeed the ones cheating them by selling this water, before you start whinging about the media?

Incidentally, I'd be astonished to discover that the UK tap water would be less safe than water from Saudi Arabia given that in the UK, people can actually safely drink tap water and it's had running water for a good few centuries before the House of Saud even became established as ruling dynasty.

seema 8 years ago

ZAM ZAM is forbidden for sale/export by Saudi govt. the ones selling it are the people who commit the crime of selling water by name of ZAM ZAM. BBC and the people of UK should not be so naive that just because some few shops sold water (containing aresenic) proves that it is actual ZAM ZAM from Mecca. Even if I want, its so easy for me to sell any water by name of ZAM ZAM and mix it with adulterated water. It can be done by anyone who wants to defame the sacred water of Allah.