JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will lay the foundation stone for a new expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Friday, it was announced on Tuesday.
The new project, covering 400,000 square meters, will create prayer space for an additional 1.2 million worshippers.
“The new project, named the King Abdullah Expansion, will be carried out using the most advanced mechanical and electrical systems,” said Muhammad Al-Khozaim, vice president of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques Affairs. “Once completed, the new facility will be able to accommodate nearly 1.2 million worshippers,” he said.
The new expansion will also have basic facilities including modern garbage disposal systems and security monitoring systems. Sunshades will also be established on the northern courtyards of the mosque. The new annex will be linked with the existing mosque and masaa with a series of bridges. It will also provided with air conditioning systems and electric stairs.
Al-Khozaim disclosed plans to expand the mataf (the circumambulation areas around the Holy Kaaba) and provide air-conditioning for all parts of the Grand Mosque, adding that the two projects would be carried out shortly along with the new Haram expansion project.
Speaking about other projects implemented at the directives of King Abdullah, he said the newly expanded masaa (the running course between Safa and Marwa) could now accommodate 118,000 pilgrims per hour instead of 44,000.
He described the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Towers as one of the largest real estate projects in Makkah. It comprises six residential towers and a five-star hotel. The frontal towers are 28 stories high while the rear ones are 35 stories. Side towers are 45 stories while the hotel tower is 60 stories. The entire complex with 11,000 rooms and suites can accommodate 35,000 pilgrims.
Al-Khozaim commended the king for taking the initiative to implement a number of vital projects for the welfare of pilgrims. They include the Mashair Railway connecting Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, the Haramain Railway to link the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, the Jamrat bridge complex, the Central Zone Development project, the King Abdul Aziz Road, new ring roads in addition to flood drainage projects in the holy sites.
The Jamrat Bridge project, which was carried out at a cost of SR4.5 billion, was instrumental in preventing stampedes during the stoning ritual. It is designed to accommodate 5 million pilgrims. The Mashair Railway will become fully operational before the upcoming Haj in November. The metro service will operate 17 trains with 12 coaches in each train. A train will carry 3,000 pilgrims.
By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS