Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia closes the third expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca

General view of Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, after Saudi authorities suspended Umrah amid the fear of coronavirus outbreak, at Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, March 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia will close the third expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca as part of the precautionary measures implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the President General of Two Holy Mosques Affairs Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais instructed on Wednesday.

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The General Presidency started working on a package of preventive measures to preserve the safety of pilgrims visiting the two Holy Mosques recently and expanded those procedures to include closing the non-main doors of the Grand Mosque, intensifying sterilization operations for the air conditioning and ventilation systems of the Two Holy Mosques, closing the roof and basement of the Grand Mosque, as well as reducing the number of workers in the Two Holy Mosques.

A video of the Grand Mosque and its surroundings showed it to be virtually empty.

Coronavirus in Saudi Arabia

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Kingdom reached 900 cases and two deaths as of Wednesday, according to the ministry of Health.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz approved several new measures on Wednesday to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus, including banning residents from traveling between the 13 regions of the Kingdoms starting on Thursday, banning residents from entering or exiting Riyadh, Mecca and Medina. The curfew for the three cities will begin at 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

Malls and parks were shut down earlier this month, and restaurants and cafes were banned from serving food and beverages on their premises. Workplace attendance was also suspended at most government agencies for a period of 16 days, except for health, security, and military sectors.

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The Third Expansion of the Grand Mosque

The Saudi Third Expansion of the Grand Mosque, which was launched by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2015, is considered an extension of the previous historical expansions first initiated by late founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman and completed by late kings: Saud and Faisal, followed by the expansion of the eastern parks which have been implemented during the era of late King Khalid, followed by the expansion of the mosque from the western side during the reign of late King Fahd, followed by the Masaa (circumambulation passage) expansion which took place during the era of late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and then the grand expansion ordered by late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and completed during the current era of King Salman.

The third grand expansion of the Holy Mosque in Mecca includes major components: the holy mosque's main expansion building, the Masaa expansion which has already been opened and the expansion of the circumambulation path, the external parks, flyovers, stairs, complex of central services building, services tunnel, security buildings, the hospital, pedestrian-use tunnels, transportation stations, bridges leading to the mosque, first ring road surrounding the holy mosque area, and the infrastructure which includes power stations, water reservoirs and flood drainage system.

The total building area amounts to 1,470,000 square-meter., the area of the expansions reached 320,00 square-meter to accommodate 300,000 worshippers while the area of the premises amounts to 175,000 square-meter to make room for 280,000 worshippers.

The bridges and flyovers’ area amounts to 45,000 square-meter. to carry 50,000 worshippers, the area of the services building is 550,000 square-meter which will accommodate 310,000 worshippers. The area of the eastern stairs became 263,000 square-meter which is enough for 150,000 worshippers.

The Masaa area was increased by 57,000 square-meter to accommodate 70,000 worshippers, with the capacity of the mosque increasing from 44,000 person/hour at the circumambulation path to 118,000 person/hour.

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Last Update: 14:31 KSA 17:31 - GMT 14:31
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