CAIRO – Catering to the growing number of Muslim worshippers travelling to the holy land, the expansion of the mataf, or circumambulation area around the Kaaba, will be opened in Ramadan, with an hourly capacity for 100,000 worshipers.
“We are currently working on utility buildings, which include government offices, the operations room, the headquarters of the security authorities, health department, Red Crescent, Civil Defense, and other related offices,” said Sultan Al-Qurashi, director of project management at the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Arab News reported on Saturday, April 25. “About 95 percent of such buildings have been completed.”
According to Al-Qurashi, the latest expansion will include completing the third phase of the project like the floors of the basement, ground and first floor.
Squares, praying areas and toilets in the northern area of Al-Masjid Al-Haram will be ready by Ramadan too.
Extending from a point 200 meters North West of the Kaaba to a further 458 meters, the expansion on the Shami side of the mosque aims to accommodate more than a million worshipers. Covering 75,000 square meters, the expansion will include an integrated service station, environmentally friendly air-conditioning system, water tanks, waste disposal systems, centralized cleaning system, and 12,500 toilets.
As part of the new extensions provided at Islam’s holiest shrine, hundreds of sunshades were also installed in the mosque’s courtyards; home to the Ka’bah, which marks the direction Muslims take during prayers.
Over the past few years, the Saudi government has championed several projects to develop and expand Makkah to help more pilgrims perform Hajj and Umrah with ease.
In November 2009, Riyadh completed a five-story hi-tech Jamarat Bridge to ensure a smooth flow of millions of pilgrims during the pelting ritual of the annual hajj.
The bridge has 10 entrances and 12 exits over its four levels to allow the flow of 300,000 pilgrims per hour. It is also equipped with technology to help authorities intervene in case of any deadly stampedes during the stoning ritual.
Other projects were also constructed to expand the area on top of the holy Mount `Arafat, and develop the sewage and fire-fighting systems, in addition to upgrading health and transportation services.