Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy
Mosques, told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) the new constructions are part
of the second phase of the ongoing expansion of the mataf (circumambulation
area around the Holy Kaaba).
phase would cover about 25,000m2, almost double the area of the
first phase. With the completion of the second phase, the capacity to
accommodate tawaf performers will rise to 75,000 per hour,” he said.
added: "The second phase begins from where the first phase ended at the
north side of the mataf and will reach up to King Fahd Gate, which was
constructed during the second Saudi expansion after passing through the Umrah
Gate and the area opposite it in the direction of the mataf.
phase includes reconstruction of Al-Fatah Gate and its surrounding area as well
as the outer surrounding area facing the northern courtyard. The old passageway
will be dismantled and reconstructed to facilitate the movement of pilgrims
inside the mataf."
Construction of the first
mezzanine floor, which is designated for pilgrims with special needs, with a
width of 10m, is also underway. The new construction sites have been barricaded
after ensuring passages to facilitate smooth and safe flow of worshipers from
the mataf to the masaa (running area between Safa and Marwa).
Sheikh Sudais said work will
continue until the beginning of next Ramadan to enable the faithful to take
advantage of the basement floor as well as the ground and first floors of the
mataf, while the terrace will be opened during the next Haj season.
buildings and all levels of the mataf will have staircases and escalators to
ensure smooth flow of worshipers, he said.
Sudais said work on the first level of the temporary circular bridge over the
mataf, designed for the disabled and elderly pilgrims, and connecting it to the
ground floor of the mosque and outer courtyards will also be completed before
Sudais opened the top and second levels of the bridge that connects the first
floor of the mosque on July 25. The 12m-wide and 13m-high bridge can
accommodate 1,700 wheelchairs in an hour. The bridge will be used by disabled
people until the completion of the mataf expansion work that started on Nov.15
as the ‘Project of the Century’, the King Abdullah Expansion Project, costing
over $26.7bn (SR100bn), is designed to increase the mosque’s capacity to more
than two million worshipers.