Makkah’s Grand Mosque expansion work 95% complete
Work due to be completed by the end of the year following 30 months of non-stop work
Ninety-five percent of a project to expand the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba (Mataf) has been completed, thanks to 30 months of non-stop work ordered by the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
Work is proceeding according to schedule for the third phase of the scheme, which is supposed to be completed by the end of this year.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette visited the site Sunday and watched busy workers going about their job to finish the third phase, which started last Haj season, and end it this year.
Temporary isolation fences were put up until work is finished. All the fences in the Mataf area as well as the temporary rings for Tawaf will have been removed by the end of this Islamic year.
The targeted number of Tawaf performers will reach 105,000 an hour. The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques’ Affairs launched this project around two years ago.
The company implementing the project cut off power in the project site and removed all lamps, chandeliers, ceiling fans, speakers from the site.
Afterward, it demolished the pillars and removed the two minarets of the Al-Fatah Gate. Then it laid down the foundation for the eastern part of the Mataf area.
The first base of the project was laid shortly after. The project department of the presidency decided to link the Mataf Bridge to the ground floor and allocate the first floor to people with disabilities.
Sultan Al-Qurashi, director of the department, said at the time the project would take three years and consist of three phases.
The first would cover Al-Safa to Al-Fatah Gate, the second Al-Fatah Gate to Al-Umrah Gate and the third King Fahd Expansion Area to Al-Safa.
He said: “Currently, the third phase work is being finished while pillars are being installed at the site.
“The concrete foundation bases for King Abdulaziz Gate will be laid soon after other foundations have been completed and the ceilings of the first floor have been put up.”
The new pedestrian road leading to Arafat from Makkah is also nearing completion and will be opened before the next Haj season, according to a senior official of Makkah Municipality.
“The road will no doubt be the longest walkway in the whole world,” said Hisham Shilly, director of the municipality’s department of parks and public utilities.
He recalled that work on the road project started about two years ago and will be officially launched sometime in September.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 28, 2015.