Regional News

Grand Mosque expands

September 2011

WORK on a massive expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is currently under way at a cost of SR80 billion ($21.2 billion), according to local news reports.

The project, which was officially launched last month by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, is intended to boost capacity of the mosque to around 2 million worshippers at a time, from its current capacity of 770,000.

As many as 10,000 workers are already working on the expansion which is estimated to cost SR40 billion ($10.6 billion), while the 400,000 sq m of land being bought for the project will cost a further SR40 billion.

The project includes construction of a new multi-level extension to the north of the mosque, expanding the number of courtyards, building new walkways, tunnels, toilets and service facilities for air-conditioning, electricity and drinking water. A 1,200-m-long tunnel will be constructed from the end of the expansion passing through Jabal Hindi while another 1,100-m tunnel will be built under Jabal Madafie. An emergency 700-m tunnel crossing the other two tunnels will be constructed from Jabal Al Kaaba.

The project is expected to take 16 months to complete.

The Grand Mosque underwent significant expansion in the mid-1980s, but the number of pilgrims has steadily grown over the years, requiring another expansion.

King Abdullah also officially inaugurated the 601-m-high Makkah Royal Clock Tower that rises from behind the hills and is topped by a gigantic four-faced clock, which helps visitors at other holy sites locate the Grand Mosque.

The clock tower is the world’s second tallest building behind the 828-m-high Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, UAE. inaugurated in Dubai early last year.

Makkah attracts 2.5 million Muslims from around the world during the annual Haj pilgrimage.

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