Mataf expansion to double current capacity

Updated 09 December 2012
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Mataf expansion to double current capacity

A vast expansion project for the mataf, (the circumambulation space around the Kaaba), is currently under way. The new mataf when completed, after three years, will accommodate 130,000 pilgrims in an hour, while the current mataf capacity withstands 52,000 pilgrims.
The Grand Mosque’s Imam and Khatib, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, who is also president of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs, said in a recent statement that Haj and Umrah pilgrims will not face any difficulties due to lack of space, after the completion of the expansion work. He also added they would have direct access to the mataf from the outer squares, without crossing the ground floor of the mosque.
The expansion project will preserve the existing area, and will be parallel to it, but at a lower level.
“The work has been launched at the eastern side of the mataf, which has a bottleneck problem, as that side is running parallel to the masaa (the running area between Safa and Marwah). The bottle neck problem begins at the middle of the north eastern side and extends to the southern side up to the Al-Safa Gate of the Grand Mosque,” Al-Sudais said in a recent statement.
The expansion work will also put in place an integrated system to make tawaf and running between Safa and Marwah more disabled-friendly, the sheikh said.
“There will be a network of bridges and pedestrian pathways to reduce the crowding in the mosque,” he said.
The work will also ensure maximum safety and cleanliness at the mataf and other parts of the mosque, he added.
The move, which has been welcomed by senior religious scholars, will considerably reduce the crowding, especially during Haj season, when millions of pilgrims perform the tawaf, every day of Haj and the days preceding and succeeding it.
A major feature of the expansion work includes linking the present mataf with the area outside the Grand Mosque. The area behind the Ottoman structure will be demolished and re-built with one basement, three floors and a roof, all without pillars and all for tawaf
only.
Minister of Haj, Bandar Hajjar said the authorities have no plans to restrict the number of pilgrims during the next Umrah season, denying reports that the number of pilgrims would be drastically cut to speed up the expansion work.
The expansion work began on Nov. 15, even though preparatory work started much earlier.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of the Qiddiya Project

Updated 24 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of the Qiddiya Project

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize on Wednesday the launch of the “Qiddiya” Project which is the new entertainment, sports and cultural destination in the Kingdom.
The project will be built in Al-Giddiya area, some 40 km west of the capital, Riyadh.
The foundation stone ceremony of will be attended by a host of local and international officials, as well as a number of decision-makers, major investors and representatives of the regional and international companies, marking the launch of the project’s formal infrastructure. The first phase will be completed by 2022.
In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi, Secretary General of the Foundation Council of the Qiddiya Project of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) said that the inauguration of this vital project is a real translation of the aspirations of the Kingdom’s wise leadership and its relentless efforts to develop mega projects that would contribute effectively to achieve many direct and indirect economic returns, and to advance sustainable development for the benefit of the homeland and the citizen, in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
“About two-thirds of the Kingdom’s population is under the age of 35. There is a great need for Qiddiya Project to provide them with entertainment. The project will save about $30 billion, which will be used to develop the domestic economy and create new job opportunities for Saudi youths,” he added.
For his part, Michael Reininger, Chief Executive of Qiddiya, said, “we are delighted to be a key contributor to boost the Kingdom’s economic development and investment, not only for the entertainment industry but also to projects that will develop the capabilities the young Saudi people.”