The work on the expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah has been stepped up on the instructions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah so that they are completed on schedule, said Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf after inspecting progress in both cities.
“These expansion projects are being carried out in the service of Islam and Muslims from all over the world,” the minister said on Wednesday. The SR80 billion Makkah project will increase the mosque’s capacity to 2.5 million worshippers while the Madinah mosque expansion will accommodate more than 1.5 million. In Makkah, Al-Assaf inspected the public transport stations on Ajyad Street behind King Abdul Aziz Endowment Tower, a new hospital project, security buildings, the pedestrian tunnel, the mosque expansion, and the final stage of construction on the mataf, or the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba.
“I came to Makkah on the instructions of King Abdullah to inspect progress on the Haram expansion toward the north and the mataf expansion project,” the minister said. “Those implementing these giant projects are doing their job efficiently to complete them on time,” he said. Al-Assaf said the first phase of the Prophet’s Mosque expansion is being implemented on its eastern side with the support of 7,000 engineers and workers. This is the largest in the city’s history. The Finance Ministry has identified 10,000 properties surrounding the mosque that has to make way for the project. The ministry has already paid compensation to 2,500 property owners. Al-Assaf said the remaining beneficiaries would receive their compensation soon, adding that a specialized committee was working on it.
King Abdullah laid the foundation stone for the expansion project in September 2012. The project, which includes the construction of a new building northeast of the present mosque, is being carried out according to international standards. The annex building covering 82,000 square meters will provide additional prayer space for 167,000 worshippers.
“This will bring the total area of the mosque to 98,500 square meters while the mosque’s terrace, covering 67,000 square meters will accommodate 90,000 worshippers. The project also includes an underground floor to accommodate air conditioning and cooling systems and other services,” he said.