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Sat 3 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Prophet's Mosque undergoes expansion

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has launched several projects aimed at increasing the capacity and facilities in and around the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has launched several projects aimed at increasing the capacity and facilities in and around the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.

The expansion is reportedly going to begin within two weeks.

The first expansion project was launched by late King Fahad in 1986 creating space for 1 million worshippers. During that project, the mosque's courtyards were extended to the western side up to Manakha Street, to the east up to Abu Dharr Street, and to the north to Sahaimi Street.

This increased the capacity of the mosque to 270,000 worshippers inside and 730,000 in the courtyards.

The new project would be the second largest expansion project.

The project is estimated to cost US $1.2 billion (SAR4.7 billion). It will include 182 massive umbrellas to protect worshippers from sun and rain. The automatic umbrellas will protect some 200,000 people.

The expansion of the eastern courtyard of the mosque will create an additional capacity for 70,000 worshippers with underground parking for 420 cars and 70 large buses. New toilets and boarding stations will also be built. Three tunnels will be built connecting the mosque with King Faisal Road 1.

The project also includes the construction of new streets and pavements Madinah Mayor Abdul Aziz Al Hussein said. When completed, the new project will create space for 500,000 in an area of 137,400m2.

Municipal authorities have already stopped issuing licenses for new buildings next to the area earmarked for the project in order to facilitate the expansion project.

For the construction of more utilities and improvements for the city 586,624m2 of land will be obtained between the King Abdul Aziz Road to the south, Airport Road to the north, the Pillars Street in the east and King Faisal Road in the west.

Several billion riyals have already been spent on projects including the expansion of Masaa (place for walking between Safa and Marwa); construction of four levels at the Jamrat in Mina; and expansion of the courtyards of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

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