The MAKKAH Grand Mosque expansion project on schedule.

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Makkah’s Grand Mosque expansion project is on schedule, with final touches being applied to the bottom floor of the “mataf” (area for circumambulation around the Kaaba), according to local media reports.

The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque said it had accelerated work on the area which has seen the lower level’s entrances linked to the ground floor and outer squares.Security, light and sound, air-passage and drainage systems have also been put in place.

The top floor of the area was completed last year in order to accommodate pilgrims with physical disabilities.The decorated barrier at the upper floor of the suspended mataf has been replaced with two glass partitions to enable pilgrims to maintain visual contact with the Kaaba.

Spanning 3,000m², the mataf area will have an hourly capacity for 5,000 circumambulators when complete.The Grand Mosque is the main attraction for over 6mn pilgrims who enter Makkah each year and is the focal point for a transformation in modernizing one of the oldest cities in the region with high-rise skyscrapers and residential blocks.

The project to expand the mosque consists of three main areas, with the first being the expansion of Al-Haram itself to accommodate two million worshipers.

The second phase includes the development of exterior areas such as rest rooms, tunnels, and other services to ensure the smooth movement of worshipers throughout the site.The third involves a support services area that includes a district cooling plant, an electricity station, water stations, and other services.

Saudi Binladin Group is the main contractor executing the project at a cost of $21.3bn, while the Saudi government has paid out SAR 133bn ($35.5bn) to the owners of properties that have been expropriated to make room for the expansion.The expansion of the northern section of the Grand Mosque began in 2011.

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