JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has implemented massive projects to serve the Two Holy Mosques as part of its a long-standing approach followed by the leadership of the Kingdom since the era of King Abdul Aziz through his sons, Saud, Faisal, Khaled, Fahd and Abdullah, until the period of King Salman, the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) said in a report.
The first expansion was implemented during the period of King Abdul Aziz. It included the annexation of Masa’a to the Grand Mosque and the addition of floors that doubled the total area of the Grand Mosque with the basement. The mataf was also expanded.
The second expansion of the mosque was carried out during the period of King Fahd. A block, which is interconnected and homogeneous with the Grand Mosque in terms of the architectural character, was added to the western side of the mosque. The roof and the surrounding areas of the mosque were arranged for worshippers, expanding the total area of the holy mosque to accommodate 600,000 worshippers.
Unprecedented increase in number of pilgrims, visitors
With the development of means of transportation and the increase in the number of worshippers, the Makkah Grand Mosque needed urgent expansion. Finding a solution to this issue became the focus of King Abdullah’s attention to expand the Masa’a area by fourfold, making it the largest expansion in the history of the holy mosque, to accommodate more than 1.6 million worshippers in normal circumstances, and accommodate significant numbers of pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah.
The historic expansion by King Abdullah was carried out on the northern side of the holy mosque. It included the building and open courtyards; bridges, terraces, pedestrian corridors and the service buildings, including health centers and a hospital; civil defense; as well as central air conditioning and a backup generating station.
The historic expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah
The historic expansion, initiated by King Abdullah, is characterized by being easily accessible through 20 gates spread throughout the building. The most notable is the King Abdullah Gate, which is the largest main gate of the Grand Mosque. The expansion is also characterized by its sophisticated air conditioners that cover all parts of the building.
The expansion project of Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
The project to expand the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, its courtyards and the associated elements of the mega-projects sponsored by the government, comes within the expansion projects of the Two Holy Mosques to ensure the pilgrims’ comfort with more facilities.
The expansion project includes the construction of 10 new minarets and implementation of an extension to the eastern part of the mosque on an area of 100,000 square meters. It also includes the implementation of mobile and fixed glass domes that allow natural ventilation and lighting in a modern engineered system. This is in addition to the installation of escalators in some parts of the expansion building; the implementation of the second floor to accommodate 180,000 worshippers; the installation of elevators to serve the elderly and persons with special needs; and the implementation of the extension building to the eastern part of the Prophet’s Mosque on an area of 82,000 square meters.
The project will be implemented in three phases, with the first phase accommodating more than 800,000 worshippers. In the second and third phases, the eastern and western plazas of the Prophet’s Mosque, will be expanded to accommodate another 800,000 worshippers.
Mobilizing all potentials to offer best ever services
The pilgrimage this year comes as an extension of the historical role of the Saudi leadership in the service of Islam and Muslims, which is reflected by the Kingdom’s reception and success in managing the largest season for Umrah, where about 6.5 million people performed their rituals easily and comfortably.
The Kingdom also unveiled its ambitious plan to accommodate 30 million pilgrims in the coming years, according to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Developmental vision in
expansion of Two Holy Mosques
The development vision in the expansion of Two Holy Mosques, includes the continuation of the expansion of the sites, the completion of the metro train network to the holy places, housing projects and the tents for pilgrims, including the conclusion of expansion and establishment of large airports to receive pilgrims.
The Kingdom has also extended its health services to pilgrims, which include hospitals and medical centers; providing information and awareness services; nutrition; comprehensive and constant hygiene around the clock, with advanced sanitation services; tree planting and lighting in the holy sites — all which confirms the significant care that the Kingdom accords to pilgrims every year.
King Salman is keen to direct all the concerned agencies to redouble their efforts and provide all facilities that assist the pilgrims; he personally follows up on the available services and their development, in addition to the careful follow-up by the crown prince and the efforts of officials to provide the best services, as well as ensure security and safety for each person who comes to this blessed land.