BY: JEDDAH: BADR AL-QAHTANI ARABNEWS
The biggest expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah was carried out during the reign of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
In 2011, the Haram’s capacity was raised to accommodate 1.6 million worshippers, one-and-half times more than all the expansions put together in the mosque’s history. This latest expansion cost SR 80 billion and is part of Makkah’s many development projects, including work on the mosque’s central zone and surrounding areas.
Speaking on the seventh anniversary of King Abdullah’s accession to throne, Dr. Muhammad Bin Nasser, vice president of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs, said developing the mosque’s area is an ongoing project.
“Every year the Grand Mosque witnesses more development in the services provided to visitors. This year, the King Abdullah Expansion Project is being carried out. It includes the latest and most sophisticated electrical and mechanical systems. The expansion is linked to the first Saudi expansion and to the masaa (running area between Safaa and Marwaa) via several bridges. A new system of elevators and escalators is being installed,” he said.
He said there will be an integrated services station that is being constructed on an area of 75,000 square meters that will include modern, eco-friendly air conditioning systems, water reservoirs, waste dumping systems and others.
The project to expand the tawaf area is one of the major projects and will result in the capacity being increased to accommodate 130,000 Tawaf performers per hour across all floors instead of the current capacity of 52,000.
The project will include a floor (the first one) allocated to those with special needs and will be connected to elevators and escalators. The special needs floor will also be connected to the masaa, he added.
Secretary-General of the Madinah Development Board Muhammad Al-Ali said the new expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque that will be executed as part of the city’s comprehensive development plan will increase the mosque’s capacity to accommodate 320,000 worshippers, he said last year at the Madinah Research Forum.
The plan includes rehabilitating Wadi Alaqiq (Alaqiq valley), the biggest valley in Madinah, he added.
He said that Quba Mosque area is also included as it will be developed on an area of 1.5 million square meters as well as the city’s meeqat point (where pilgrims don the ihram prior to performing Haj or Umrah), whose development contracts have been awarded to contractors.