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Expanded Makkah Grand Mosque can accommodate 1.85 mln visitors

Expansion work will increase the area of the mosque as well as that of the courtyards and mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba)

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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman thanked the people of Makkah region for the warm welcome accorded to him during the pledge of allegiance ceremony held in the Holy City on Sunday.

The King made the remarks while chairing the weekly session of the Council of Ministers at Al-Salam Palace here on Monday.

The Cabinet emphasized that King Salman’s inspection tour of the ongoing largest ever expansion in the history of the Grand Mosque shows his keenness to provide the best possible services and facilities for pilgrims and visitors to the holy mosque.

In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency following the session, Minister of Culture and Information Adel Al-Turaifi said the Cabinet noted that the expansion work will increase the area of the mosque as well as that of the courtyards and mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) to 1.47 million square meters with a capacity to accommodate around 1.85 million worshippers. With the completion of the third and final phase of the expansion, the mataf can accommodate up to 107,000 tawaf performers per hour.

The Cabinet commended the King Salman Program for Umrah and Visit, which is being implemented for the first time.

The program to host 1,000 pilgrims to perform Umrah rituals every year is being carried out under the supervision of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance.

Al-Turaifi said the Cabinet approved regulations to set up a fund for families of martyrs, injured people, prisoners and those reported missing. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, will be the chairman of the board of trustees of the fund, which has the objective to help the needy people among the families of martyrs, those injured, prisoners and those reported missing, besides carrying out charity work.

The Cabinet condemned the foiled terrorist act targeting worshipers at Al-Anoud Mosque in Dammam, considering it as a sinful attack by a deviant group which has adopted violence and killing as an approach, seeking sedition on earth, and undermining the Kingdom’s security and stability, in addition to distorting the image of Islam.

It commended the security forces for thwarting the attempt to carry out the crime.

While lauding the close cooperation between citizens and security men, the Cabinet emphasized that the citizen is the first security man.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 2, 2015.