JEDDAH: P. K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | Arab News Staff
Published — Thursday 15 August 2013
Last update 16 August 2013 10:04 am
New projects worth more than SR300 billion are being implemented in Makkah to improve services being rendered to millions of pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah, said Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
He said the new development projects in Makkah, including largest expansion of the Grand Mosque, were not aimed at making any financial gains for the Kingdom but to enhance facilities for the guests of God who are growing in numbers year after year.
“The ongoing Haram expansion project, the largest in history, is being carried out on an area of 400,000 square meters. It will double the mosque’s capacity to two million worshippers,” the governor said.
The new Haram project has six main components: Expansion of its plazas; construction of bridges and pedestrian pathways; new service buildings; health centers; civil defense office; a central air-conditioning station; and a reserve power plant.
“There are plans to construct more pathways and tunnels around the mosque as part of the project,” he said, adding that all these works would facilitate the movement of pilgrims.
Prince Khaled stressed the significance of the SR69 billion Makkah public transport project, including a metro system, adding that it would ensure smooth flow of traffic inside the city.
He also said the King Abdullah Project for the Development of Makkah and Holy Sites aims at increasing the present capacity of Mina and linking the holy sites with Makkah with an advanced transport system.
The ongoing expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah will increase its capacity to 80 million passengers, he said. KAIA is the main gateway of pilgrims.
“The Haramain Railway will reduce the waiting time of pilgrims at KAIA and will carry more than three million passengers annually,” the governor said.
The railway linking Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah will have a length of 480 km.
He referred to government’s plan to set up a full-fledged pilgrim city in Makkah with housing units, offices of Haj service providers and exhibition centers.
The expansion of masaa, the running area between the Safa and Marwa inside the mosque, has increased its capacity to 188,000 pilgrims per hour, he said.