Dozens of Saudi craftsmen, mostly in their 40s and 50s, are hard at work in a factory in Makkah preparing an embroidered black and gold cloth to cover the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam.
Known as the kiswa, the cloth is woven from silk and cotton and adorned with verses from the Qur’an. A new one is made each year to be placed on the Kaaba in Makkah’s Grand Mosque during the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, which begins on Wednesday.
Many of the craftsmen have worked in the factory in the Oum Al-Jood district of Makkah all their lives but they will retire soon, so a new generation is being trained to carry on the trade.
General manager Mohammed bin Abdullah Bajuda said King Salman had ordered all the machines, which were introduced some 30 years ago to help automate the process, to be replaced with newer ones by next year.