The history of Makkah Grand Mosque’s expansion

The history of Makkah Grand Mosque’s expansion
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Updated 29 July 2020

The history of Makkah Grand Mosque’s expansion

The history of Makkah Grand Mosque’s expansion
  • The incredible achievements of the Saudi kings have taken the custodianship of the holiest site in the Islamic world to a new level

JEDDAH: Throughout history, Muslim caliphs and rulers responsible for Makkah, Islam’s holiest city, have gone to great lengths to guard, expand and care for the Grand Mosque.
“The Grand Mosque is the place to which Muslims all over the world turn their faces when starting their prayers, so it was the focus of interest of sultans, kings, princes, leaders and even wealthy Muslim people,” said Dr. Aminah Jalal, a professor of history at Umm Al-Qura University.
“They provided all financial support for the restoration and renovation of the mosque. Religious sentiments motivated them to send donations throughout the Islamic ages, as well as providing the workers and building materials necessary to take care of this blessed mosque.”
In days gone by, leaders also ordered wells to be dug and roads paved to make the journey to the holy sites easier for pilgrims, she added, but in the Saudi era, their efforts have reached a new level.
“The contributions of Saudi leaders in expanding and taking care of the mosque are beyond any comparison,” said Jalal.
 

Rashidun caliphate
According to a report by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the Grand Mosque was surrounded by houses from the time of Prophet Ibrahim until the rule of the second Muslim caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab. He bought the neighboring properties so that the circumambulation area could be expanded. He also ordered a nearly 2-meter high wall to be built around the space.
As the number of worshippers increased, more space was needed, and the mosque was extended during the reign of Uthman ibn Affan, the third Muslim caliph, in 647. The number of people using the mosque continued to grow, and 38 years later it was expanded again by Caliph Abdullah ibn Al-Zubayr. He also rebuilt the Kaaba after the structure was damaged.

Umayyad caliphate
Two further expansions took place during the rules of the fifth Umayyad caliph, Abdul-Malik bin Marwan, and his son, Al-Waleed bin Abdul-Malik.

Abbasid caliphate
According to the General Presidency report: “The mosque also (underwent) expansions during the time of the Abbasid Caliphate, as the Muslims’ 20th caliph, Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour, ordered a little enlargement to the north side. A minaret on the eastern side of the mosque was also built.”
The largest expansion project of this era was ordered sometime around the year 783 by third Abbasid caliph, Mohammed Al-Mahdi, who expanded the Grand Mosque after acquiring neighboring houses and demolishing them.
He died in 785, before the project was completed, so his son and successor as caliph, Musa, took over supervision of the project, which increased the size of the mosque by 12,512 square meters.
For the next 810 years, the Grand Mosque remained largely unchanged, with only restoration work taking place.
 
Ottoman reign
In the early 1570s, Ottoman caliphs Sultan Selim Khan and his son, Murad Khan, oversaw renovation and restoration works that included the replacement of the mosque’s flat, wooden roof with domes. They also installed additional columns to support the roof, and a stone arcade was added. The size of the mosque grew to 28,003 square meters.
 
Saudi era
Despite the impressive work of rulers throughout history to expand and care for the Grand Mosque, the incredible achievements of the Saudi kings took the custodianship of the holiest site in the Islamic world to a new level.
When King Abdul Aziz united the country and founded Saudi Arabia, he made the Two Holy Mosques a top priority and ensured they received special attention.
In 1926, he ordered a complete renovation to the Grand Mosque, including a directive to cover the entire floor with marble. A year later, according to the General Presidency, he ordered marquees to be erected at the Mataf (circumambulation space) to protect worshippers from the heat of the sun. He also ordered the Masa (the area between Safa and Marwah along which pilgrims walk in what is known as Saee) to be paved with stone for the first time.
In 1928, he ordered the establishment of a Kiswah factory to manufacture the cloth that covers the Kaaba. He even made it a condition in his will that his sons continue to expand the Grand Mosque in anticipation of the increasing numbers of pilgrims.
When his son, King Saud became monarch, the Grand Mosque covered approximately 28,000 square meters. In 1955, he launched a long-term expansion project that continued for nearly 10 years. The size of the Masa was increased, and an underground area and another floor were added.
Saud’s successor, King Faisal continued the expansion and development work. The building surrounding the Maqam Ibrahim was removed to provide more space for worshippers while circumambulating the Kaaba.
After King Khalid took over in 1975, the Mataf area was expanded and the stone pavement of the Masa was replaced with Greek, heat-resistant marble so that worshippers could circle the Kaaba more comfortably, especially at noon.
On Sept. 14, 1988, King Fahd laid the foundation stone for the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in 14 centuries. The project increased its size to 356,000 square meters, enough space for up to 1.5 million worshippers to comfortably perform their rituals. In addition, two minarets were added to the existing seven.
The sixth Saudi leader, King Abdullah, who took the throne in 2005, initiated another major expansion project, which included architectural, technical and security improvements. The capacity of the Mataf area was increased from about 50,000 people an hour to more than 130,000 to cope with the growing numbers of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
The total space covered by the Grand Mosque and its open areas and facilities increased to 750,000 square meters, at a total cost of more than SR80 billion ($21.3 billion).
In 2015, King Salman launched five major projects designed to allow the mosque to accommodate nearly 2 million worshippers on a 1.5-million-square-meter site. Neighboring properties worth billions of dollars were acquired to provide the land that was needed.
The projects included expansions of the main building, squares, pedestrian tunnels, central service station and the first ring road.
Directives were also issued to take advantage of space on all floors of the mosque to accommodate more worshippers at the Grand Mosque and enable them to perform Tawaf (circumambulation) conveniently.
The capacity of toilets and places for ablution was increased to 16,300.
Technological improvements to the Grand Mosque include escalators and lifts that operate around the clock, air conditioning, lighting, a sound system, video surveillance and a fire control system.
A report by the Ministry of Finance revealed that projects within the most recent, third Saudi expansion of the Grand Mosque, which began in 2008, included the development of the main building, Masa and Mataf, external squares, bridges, terraces, central services, service tunnels, hospital and pedestrian tunnels, transit stations and bridges, the ring road surrounding the mosque, and infrastructures such as power stations and water reservoirs.
In Aug. 2019, the Saudi Press Agency reported that a project to add more than 3,000 square meters of courtyard space near to the Grand Mosque was nearing completion. It was designed to increase the capacity of the mosque and its courtyards to provide the best possible service to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, assist with crowd control and ensure the safety of visitors.


Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia

Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia
Updated 15 April 2021

Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia

Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition destroyed five ballistic missiles and four explosive-laden drones launched by Houthis toward Saudi Arabia, Al-Ekhbariya reported on Thursday.
The attacks targeting Jazan are the latest in a long line of hostile actions against the Kingdom by the Iran-back Houthi militia. 
Jazan University was one of the targets as well as other civilian sites protected under international humanitarian law, coalition spokesman Turki Al-Malki said in a statement on the Saudi Press Agency, adding that the actions amount to war crimes.
The attacks originated from Sa’dah governorate in Yemen, Al-Malki added.
The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthis’ systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians. 
The Houthis, who took over the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, in 2014, have been condemned for their actions against the Kingdom. 
The Saudi government has said the Houthi attacks are not only against the  Kingdom and its economic facilities, but rather the center of the global economy, the security of its exports and its oil supplies, while also affecting maritime navigation.

Saudi Arabia has consistently backed efforts to resolved the war in Yemen peacefully.
Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman held talks with Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, and reiterated that the Kingdom supports “all efforts to end the conflict, implement a cease-fire, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reach a political resolution that guarantees peace and prosperity for the brotherly people of Yemen.”
In March, Saudi Arabia announce a peace initiative to help end a war that has ravaged Yemen for the last six years. The initiative, which has received wide support, includes a cease-fire supervised by the UN, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and new talks to reach a political resolution to the conflict. Restrictions on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah would also be eased, allowing access for ships and cargo.
The UN’s chief, Antonio Guterres, backed the deal and urged all sides to take this opportunity to pursue peace and work with his special envoy, Martin Griffiths, on ways to proceed “in good faith and without preconditions.”


Yemen’s information minister, Moammar Al-Eryani, said members of the international community with open channels to the Houthis must use their leverage to encourage it to sever ties with Iran and commit to the Saudi-led peace initiative.
“These countries must put pressure on the Houthis to stop their daily crimes and violations against civilians in their areas of control, which are considered war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Al-Eryani told Arab News in an interview last week.
A Yemeni news agency reported last month that the Houthis had “provisionally” accepted the Saudi initiative to end the war in Yemen, but were demanding unchecked flights from Sanaa airport to unlimited destinations before giving the peace plan their final approval.
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Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief opens prosthetic limbs clinic in Aden

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief opens prosthetic limbs clinic in Aden
Updated 15 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief opens prosthetic limbs clinic in Aden

Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief opens prosthetic limbs clinic in Aden
  • In addition to providing artificial limbs, the facility will also offer maintenance of prosthetics, rehabilitation services and physiotherapy

LONDON: The Saudi-based King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has officially opened an artificial limbs clinic in the Yemeni city of Aden, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Qasim Buhaibeh, the Yemeni minister of public health and population, thanked KSrelief for its work to help the Yemeni people. He also praised the achievement of establishing the prosthetic limb facility, which he said “will contribute to providing medical services and alleviating the suffering of those who are injured and the victims of mines.”

Saleh Al-Dibani, the director of KSrelief in Aden, said the organization has provided the prosthetic limb center with the resources it needs to help 1,434 beneficiaries, including 300 new prosthetic limbs.

A KSrelief worker is seen with young patients at the new prosthetic limb center in Aden. (SPA)

He added that KSrelief is also providing resources for maintenance of prosthetics, rehabilitation services, physiotherapy, and to hire medical staff in coordination with the Yemeni Ministry of Health.

“The project of equipping and preparing artificial limbs is one of the most important projects funded by KSrelief in the governorates of Aden, Taiz, Seiyun and Marib, with the aim of supporting the Yemeni health sector,” said Al-Dibani.

The center is part of the framework of humanitarian and relief efforts being provided by Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, to the Yemeni people.


Saudi scientific organization launches first observatory to monitor and anticipate future development in Kingdom

Saudi scientific organization launches first observatory to monitor and anticipate future development in Kingdom
Updated 15 April 2021

Saudi scientific organization launches first observatory to monitor and anticipate future development in Kingdom

Saudi scientific organization launches first observatory to monitor and anticipate future development in Kingdom

RIYADH: The Asbar Center for Studies, Research and Communications announced the launch of the Asbar Observatory on Development, the first of its kind in monitoring and anticipating future development in the Kingdom.
Established in 1994, the Asbar Center is a scientific organization dedicated to conducting studies and research on development and policies.
Dr. Fahad Al-Orabi Al-Harthi, president of the Asbar Center, said the new observatory is one of the center’s initiatives. 
“The idea of launching the observatory comes within the framework of the center’s efforts to keep pace with developments witnessed in various fields in the Kingdom, in order to achieve its ambitious Vision 2030,” he said.
Through the observatory, Al-Harthi noted, the Asbar Center seeks to build a national system that contributes, in cooperation with the responsible authorities, to monitoring development needs and providing information to authorities.
Al-Harthi also said the observatory will assist decision-makers in shaping life in Saudi Arabia and anticipating its future through foresight tools. In preparation for a pioneering developmental journey that supports changes, the observatory will also anticipate future opportunities and challenges by analyzing their effects and developing innovative solutions to them.
“The mechanism of the Asbar Observatory project relies on the work of local and international development indicators,” Al-Harthi said.
“The observatory will focus on monitoring development and issuing reports to the competent authorities on progress, social innovation, sustainable development and social responsibility. It will also issue future forward-looking studies.”
Al-Harthi said he hopes the Asbar Observatory will enhance the Kingdom’s presence in various global fields while maintaining its distinguished international position.


Prince Mishaal bin Majed appointed adviser to the king

Prince Mishaal bin Majed appointed adviser to the king
Updated 15 April 2021

Prince Mishaal bin Majed appointed adviser to the king

Prince Mishaal bin Majed appointed adviser to the king

RIYADH: King Salman on Thursday appointed Prince Mishaal bin Majed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as adviser to the king, with the rank of minister, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Prince Mishaal has been governor of Jeddah since 1997 and a member of the Allegiance Council since 2007. 

He is president of the governing council of the assembly and president of the Social Development Forum and chairman of the board of the Society of Majid bin Abdul Aziz for Development and Social Services.


Beggars exploit charitable sentiment during Ramadan

Beggars exploit charitable sentiment during Ramadan
Updated 15 April 2021

Beggars exploit charitable sentiment during Ramadan

Beggars exploit charitable sentiment during Ramadan
  • Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has warned citizens to be wary and recommends using the proper channels to give to charity

JEDDAH: A surge in beggars has been witnessed across Saudi Arabia, taking advantage of the holy month and the acts of charity obligatory upon Muslims.

The scene is not new to residents of the Kingdom. For years, beggars who have arrived illegally through various means such as smuggling, originally from areas such as Africa, Afghanistan and Yemen — and even local citizens — have roamed the streets asking for money.

Migrant smuggling, the irregular movement of people through international borders, is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities and has been an issue in the Kingdom for years. The situation dramatically worsened after the Houthis, the Iran-backed militia group, gained power in Yemen, and thousands of people have tried to escape into the Kingdom from the improvised nation.

On the rugged mountain terrain of the Saudi-Yemen border, criminals are smuggled into the Kingdom, more often than not finding their way into major cities and using various ploys to grab people’s attention and money. 

The spirit of giving is prevalent during Ramadan, when Muslims undertake acts of kindness. Giving money is the simplest form of charity but many beggars have been found to be part of an organized gang, mobilizing children, infants and old men and women to do their work.

HIGHLIGHT

Illegal immigrants also poses a security challenge. Some illegal immigrants have been implicated in criminal activities such as smuggling weapons and narcotics, and have committed crimes such as theft, espionage or subversive acts that threaten national security. This is a global issue that many countries have been struggling with. 

All-too familiar scenes — of disheveled-looking young men in torn dirty clothes, barefoot children standing under the scorching sun and walking on unbearably hot pavements, babies passed out in their prams with heavily covered women pushing them between cars or idly waiting at traffic stops without concern for the harm exhaust smoke can do to their health — seem to double during Ramadan.

Such sights may grab people’s attention, prompting them to give a few riyals intended to satisfy the beggars and encourage them to get off the streets — only to find them returned to the same spot the next day.

“These scenes are all too familiar,” one resident, Afaf Al-Ghamdi, said. “I pass by the same streets going to and from work, and everyday I see the same woman with different babies just walking between the cars. It’s heartbreaking to see, but we’re heeding the warnings and we need to stop encouraging them. Organized crime is real and it’s no excuse nowadays not to perform an act of charity safely.”

Though the act itself might seem harmless to some, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has warned citizens to be wary and recommends using the proper channels to give to charity, with many applications and platforms now available to do so.

As Saudi Arabia continues to make positive improvements toward its digital transformation goals by increasing the efficiency of e-services, the General Authority for Zakat and Tax’s (GAZT) application, “Zakaty,” had made giving easier and safer. In its fourth year, GAZT has made Zakaty available through a website and a call center. More than SR40 million ($10.6 million) was collected last Ramadan, which social security beneficiaries registered at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development benefited from.

Illegal immigrants also poses a security challenge. Some illegal immigrants have been implicated in criminal activities such as smuggling weapons and narcotics, and have committed crimes such as theft, espionage or subversive acts that threaten national security. This is a global issue that many countries have been struggling with. 

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mujib said that smuggling was a form of organized crime run by networks that could have grave security, health, economic and social implications for society.

The penalty for smugglers, or those involved in facilitating the illegal entry or movement of illegal migrants, will be a sentence of no less than 15 years in jail, a fine of up to SR1 million ($266,000) and confiscation of vehicles or property intended to transport or house them.