Prophet’s Mosque to accommodate two million worshippers after expansion

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Updated 26 September 2012

Prophet’s Mosque to accommodate two million worshippers after expansion

JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered that works for the expansion project of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah should start immediately in order for it to be completed in less than two years.
The king stressed the significance of the completion of the project at its earliest considering the greatness of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said.
The mosque building will sprawl over an area of 614,800 square meters or 1060 X 580 meters while the combined space of the mosque and plazas will be 1,020, 500 square meters or 1300 X 785 meters, which can accommodate 1 million worshippers inside the mosque and 800,000 worshippers in the plaza, Al-Assaf said, shedding more light on the new expansion at the Madinah mosque for which the king laid the foundation stone on Monday.
When completed, the mosque will have two major minarets in addition to smaller minarets at four sides. The Central Zone surrounding the mosque will triple in size compared to present area with greater room for residences, shopping areas, utility and security and will be surrounded a new ring road.
While the first phase of the expansion will facilitate more than 800,000 worshippers, the second and third phases will give room for more than a million worshippers, media reports said.
Altogether the new expansion will create an additional space for 1.2 million worshippers by 2040.
The project will remove 23 hotels from the Central Zone (the area around the mosque), which is feared to create a shortage of 4,760 rooms to accommodate those who visit the mosque. On the other hand, 21 new hotel projects would be completed this year to make up for the shortfall, according to local media reports, according to a local newspaper report.
“The Central Zone will undergo near total reconstruction including the expansion of existing utilities to cope with the increasing number of pilgrims and visitors to the mosque in the coming years. Currently the present space in the mosque and surrounding squares is put at 550,000 to 780,000,” the report added.
The plazas in the eastern and the western sides of the mosque will be developed. The buildings surrounding the plazas will be built matching the urban development and in line with the rich Islamic cultural history of Madinah.
The project, which aims to accommodate 1.2 million worshippers by the year 2040, will also develop the surrounding buildings known as Al-Ruwaq, which will serve as a gateway between the city and the mosque. The common and community plazas will be developed to fulfill their role as the social and spiritual hub of the city.
The comprehensive plan for the development of the mosque also demands the acquisition of all needed private properties under the public sector
The comprehensive plan for the project also recommended that existing hotels in areas of reconstruction should be allowed to operate until actual work begins in their locations. This is to avoid inconvenience to pilgrims. The expansion to the northern side requires 12.5 hectares of land while its compensation of SR2.16 billion at the rate of SR400,000 per square meter will have to be paid to property owners. The total property compensation for the project is estimated at SR 25 billion.
The development of the Central Zone will have to consider the desire of visitors to the mosque to stay close to the mosque so that they can walk to the mosque for every prayer.
The design of the project will also preserve the status of the mosque as a symbol of Islam and its culture.
The plots to be acquired for northern plaza are near the Jabal Salae.
The proposed new ring road, Shari Arid Al-Janobi, which requires land worth SR2.8 billion, will be constructed at an estimated cost of SR972 million.
There will also be a number of pedestrian bridges and underpasses to help pedestrians in huge numbers to cross the new road.
The development of the Central Zone will also allow for increased private investment in the housing, shopping and hospitality sectors.
The project’s comprehensive plan also aims to develop the unplanned neighborhoods close to the Central Zone including new utility infrastructures and start work on a priority basis determined by the plan. There should be a public sector mechanism to buy property and get rid of or refurbish buildings that do not match the development plan.
King Abdul Aziz ordered the expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque with the addition of 6,024 square meters in 1950 while the expansion of 40,440 square meter was ordered by King Faisal in 1974. King Khaled allocated the land south west of the mosque for the worshippers’ service in 1997 and during the reign of King Fahd, the mosque’s space reached 384,000 square meters.
The Prophet (pbuh) built his mosque in the first year of Hijrah (622 AD) and undertook its first expansion in 7th Hijri year (629 AD) after his return from a campaign in Khaybar. The second Caliph Umar bin Al-Khattab and third Caliph Uthman bin Affan also expanded the mosque, followed by Umayyad King Waleed bin Abdul Malik in 706 AD.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

AD DIRIYAH: The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”