Fake Zamzam water sale thriving along highways
nullA group of African nationals selling water bottles along a highway in Makkah. (AN photo by Badea Abu Al-Naja)1 of 2By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA
Published: May 9, 2011 00:42 Updated: May 9, 2011 00:42
MAKKAH: A large number of illegal foreigners and some Saudi citizens have made selling fake Zamzam water a lucrative profession. They mix the holy water with ordinary water and sell the mixture as pure Zamzam water.
The fake water may have adverse health effects that can be perilous for the users. The sellers of fake Zamzam water are spreading along the highways, around the exits and entries of Makkah, and near the holy mosques. They continue their illegal trade without heeding the concerned authorities that are always after them.
Arab News made a tour of the places where fake Zamzam water is put for sale. The tour started at the central area of the Haram in Al-Ghazzah area, where many people from the African communities practice this illegal profession. They buy new empty gallons in various colors, put a small quantity of Zamzam water in them and fill the rest with plain water. They do the mixing of water in far away places and then bring their products to Al-Ghazzah area with its concentration of pilgrims and visitors. Their selling operation continues 24 hours a day, but they run away and hide whenever a security team is spotted.
In Kudai area, which has a pumping station for Zamzam water, a number of Africans, Burmese and Bangladeshis fill their gallons with Zamzam water. They empty part of the gallons in other containers, fill them with ordinary water, and sell the mixture to the salesmen around the Jeddah-Makkah Expressway. Evidently, they do this illegal job away from the eyes of the passport police.
Along the expressway, particularly near the gas stations around Makkah exits, are some groups of people selling their fake water round the clock. They put their gallons on small trucks parked there, after covering them with cloth. They leave for their homes at night and return next day to continue their job. The Zamzam water may be exposed to direct sun rays and to dust, making the fake holy water unhygienic.
Sellers of the fake Zamzam water may make more than SR400 a day, going up to SR600 during weekends and school summer vacation. A large gallon of the mixed water is sold at SR15, the medium at SR10, and the small at SR5. They buy the Zamzam water from the pumping station at SR2 a gallon.
Consultants and doctors specialized in chest diseases warn against the risk of such water, which may cause various diseases including diarrhea and typhoid. They advise all interested purchasers to buy directly from the filling factory.