Al-Baqie graveyard in Madinah to undergo expansion

Updated 20 November 2014

Al-Baqie graveyard in Madinah to undergo expansion

A huge expansion project for the historic Baqie Al-Gharqad cemetery in Madinah is ready for launch shortly, an official at the Presidency of the Holy Mosques said.
“The largest expansion in the history of the graveyard which will double its area to 300,000 square meters comes as part of the current expansion project of the Prophet’s Mosque to the northern side, with the number of grave spaces increasing to 42,000,” said the source.
The project of the cemetery which is designed to run parallel to King Faisal Road will require appropriation of the properties including farms and buildings on its eastern side. The office building of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Madinah will also have to be demolished to make way for the project, he said.
The entire facility, where relatives and companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and a number of Muslim leaders apart from Madinah residents are buried, is currently divided into 42 squares where the largest square houses 2,500 graves and the smallest accommodates 60. Some graves are allocated for infants while others are reserved for the elderly. He added that fresh remains are put in the graves every five years.
The cemetery has nine washing units for cadavers including four for men and four for women while one unit is kept in reserve. Bodies for burial are carried to the graves in golf carts. In addition, there are eight ambulances to transport the bodies to the cemetery.
The expansion work around the mosque has also taken into consideration the future requirements of the population growth in Madinah and the increasing number of pilgrims visiting the historical site.
The project is expected to have arrangements for the smooth entry and exit of pilgrims to the area besides better facilities for the washing and shrouding rituals, taking the bodies for prayers in the mosque and finally moving them to the burial site.
The regulations governing the burial include keeping records of the personal details of the deceased and the exact location of the burial.
The size of a single pit is 2 meters by 1 meter with a depth of 2 meters.
A network for the drainage of rainwater has also been put in place recently.

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

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.”