By Cathal McElroy
Infrastructure being prepared on eastern and western sides of mosque in Makkah
As many as 6,000 engineers and construction workers are on site at the Grand Mosque Expansion Project in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Arab News reported.
The huge team is currently preparing the infrastructure on the eastern and western sides of the mosque, having already removed more than 100 properties in the central area. These have included the Ansar market, Awqaf building and the old children's hospital, while work is underway to remove the King Abdulaziz Library and a number of major hotels.
Around 125,000 square metres of property space has been expropriated, with compensations reaching a total value of $6.66 billion (SAR25 billion), the report said.
Saudi Binladin Group, which is implementing the project, is preparing the eastern side of the mosque which, when complete, should be able to host more than 1.8 million worshipers.
The renovations at the site include the addition of a new building to the mosque that surrounds it and connects with it from the north, east and west. Other expansion plans include the establishment of a lower floor to house air conditioning and other equipment.
The project is now in its fourth phase, after the supervising committee finalised assigning properties for the expansion.