ONE of the three oldest markets in the Arab world, Dilmajaz is located 21 km east of Makkah. The local authorities have neglected the market and did not give it the same privilege and attention given to Souk Okaz, which has been developed by Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
Pilgrims used to stay in Dilmajaz before leaving for Arafat at the peak of the annual pilgrimage. Historians and heritage lovers have called upon SCTH to develop Dilmajaz, adding that construction of a compound wall and putting up a signboard would not serve any purpose.
Historian Ahmed Khalil Baduman said Arab men of letters used to meet in Dilmajaz in olden times when poets recited their works eulogizing their tribes. “It used to be a well-known market like Souk Okaz and a large number of people visited for centuries,” he added.
Baduman expressed his wonder why SCTH was not giving proper attention to this historic market. “This historic place demands greater attention from the commission. People will think that the walled place is a private property because there are no signs to convey the historic importance of the place,” Baduman said.
Salman Dahlawi said urban development reached Dilmajaz as a result of the increasing population. “Some buildings have occupied part of the market, which had once covered the whole valley,” he said, while urging the authorities to take immediate measures to safeguard this historical place.
“The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to visit this market as part of his efforts to spread the message of Islam,” Dahlawi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
Khaled Bin Abdullah Al-Zaid, a researcher in Makkah history and a member of the teaching staff at Umm Al-Qura University, said: “Dilmajaz was one of the important seasonal markets of Arabs in olden times. It was held during the sacred months of Rajab, Dul Qaada, Dul Hijjah and Muharram when fighting was prohibited,” he explained.
Dilmajaz used to attract a large number of Arab traders and pilgrims from Majanna market near Arafat during the first eight days of Dul Hijjah, Al-Zaid said. He said Majanna, another important meeting place for traders and men of letters in the past, was located behind the present Al-Rashidiya residential district in the lower plains of Kabkab mountain.
Shepherds visited the market to draw water from its well in order to water their cattle. “The army of Abraha (then governor of Yemen) had stopped at this well to draw water while going to destroy the Holy Kaaba. It’s also reported that Hawazin army took water from this market before they headed to the historic battle of Hunain. “This again reflects Dilmajaz’s historical importance,” Al-Zaid added.
He said the fence around Dilmajaz was constructed by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage in its bid to protect this historical place from destruction.
Al-Zaid urged the authorities to revive Dilmajaz and Majanna markets to woo tourists to the region.