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Sat 20 Aug 2011 10:50 AM

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Saudi king launches $21.3bn Grand Mosque project

King Abdullah inaugurates largest expansion in history of iconic mosque in holy city of Makkah

Saudi king launches $21.3bn Grand Mosque project
The Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP/Getty Images)
Saudi king launches $21.3bn Grand Mosque project
The Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP/Getty Images)
Saudi king launches $21.3bn Grand Mosque project
The Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has begun the biggest expansion yet of Islam's holiest site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, to raise its capacity to 2 million pilgrims, the state news agency SPA said.

"King Abdullah inaugurated in Mecca the start of the expansion... which is the largest of all previous expansions combined," SPA said.

It did not say how much it will cost to add 400,000 square metres to the mosque's area or how long the project will take.

The Grand Mosque is the main attraction for over 6 million pilgrims who enter Mecca each year and is the focal point for a transformation is modernising one of the oldest cities in the region with high-rise skyscrapers and residential blocks.

The mosque is built around the Kaaba shrine, which existed centuries before Islam emerged over 1,400 years ago. Muslims around the world turn towards it for daily prayers.

The expansion project will include pedestrian bridges as well as more shaded space to protect worshippers from the sun.

Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars in recent years in safety and comfort for the millions of pilgrims who flock to Mecca to fulfil their religious duties of Haj and Umra.

A new railway, costing $1.8bn, was launched last year to link the holy sites around Mecca to ease pilgrim transport.

Another project, the high-speed Haramain Railway, will link the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, an entry point for millions of pilgrims, to relieve road congestion.

The Saudi Railway Organization is studying bids for the second and final phase of the Haramain Railway project, which includes the construction of tracks and installation of signal systems, as well as the procurement of rolling stock.

The announcement of the winning bidder is expected by October and negotiations are under way with a consortium that includes Spanish firms, pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Saturday, quoting unnamed sources.

The paper also said one consortium, which it did not identify, had bid SR46.8bn ($12.5bn).

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riz 8 years ago

i pray all the best for the king of KSA.God bless them for these good job they are doing for muslim uma .

Muhammad Tariq 8 years ago

Excellent Initiative by King Abdullah. Ans for sure, it would remain an example until end.
God bless you with good health & shower bestow for your good deeds. Ameen

S HOQUE 8 years ago

Alhamdulillah.may ALLAH bless all of them.

Farooq 8 years ago

Sounds great at surface but one can only hope they dig deep and realise how this or equal money could help millions of people in today's miserable world in true spirit of Islam and not for a luxury or perhaps another record.

JAY 8 years ago

MAY ALLAH SHOWER HIS BLESSINGS ON KABA

Prad 8 years ago

While it is a noble cause to build the extension to allow more Muslim worshippers into Mecca, I think spending that money to alleviate the suffering of those affected by famine and educate the poor in Africa would be unparalleled. Its not a few million dollars, its $21.3 BILLION....a sizeable chunk of the GDP a lesser developed nation.

Perhaps, there wont be a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records. But the good that comes out of the helping others on such a massive scale cannot be compared to a world record, according to me. If the good king wants to leave a legacy, there cant be anything better than helping humanity.

Abdullah 8 years ago

Where in this article does it say ANYTHING to do with setting a world record. If you've ever been to Mecca, you'll realise an expansion is much needed and would be very welcome by most Muslims, across the world. As for giving to charity, I agree, one can always give more. But it may be worthwhile how much Saudi gives to charity, and bear in mind, this is only the declared amount. It's often better to give without wanting glory or publicity for it. I distinctly remember the Saudi (and other GCC countries for that matter) donating quite generously to Pakistan during the floods.
Guiness Book of World Records???? Give me a break!!!

Hussain 8 years ago

Mashallah It is about Loving Allah swt and upholding religion of ISLAM and providing opportunity to large number of people to perform obligation of Fifth pillar of ISLAM.

Abdullah, Pittsburgh 8 years ago

If you think why the king Abdullah do that , he knows about this holy mosque as an important to all Muslim around the world. He wants to spend every dollar to make all worshippers feel great when they stay in this mosque. Another thing about if he spend this money to help poor people and educate them , of course he spend above this money to help poor people and educate them. Finally I say god bless King Abdullah and Saudi's country .

OI 8 years ago

The Saudi government, God bless, is more than generous when it comes to responding to famine, flood, tsunami inflicted areas of the world. The King has recently pledged a large amount for Somalia and has done so in the past for other countries.