RIYADH – SPA
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ordered taking advantage of the expansion project of the Grand Mosque, including the ground, first and second floors, the first and second mezzanine of the building as well as the northern, southern, western and eastern courtyards of the project and its affiliates.
The new expanded structure and courtyards constructed as part of the King Abdullah Grand Mosque Expansion Project has the capacity to accommodate more than 625,000 worshippers out of the mosque’s targeted additional capacity of 1.2 million faithful, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The King ordered opening of new toilets and ablution areas constructed as part of the project. With this, the total number of toilets and ablution areas at the mosque and courtyards reached 9,750.
The King’s orders also include provision of cold potable water inside the expanded building and its courtyards, and operation of 177 escalators and 22 lifts to facilitate the movement of worshippers. There are also escalators to take people to toilets in the lower floor of the basement plaza.
King Abdullah also directed the opening of the first and second phases of the project for upgrading the capacity of mataf (circumambulation area around the Kaaba), in addition to the existing area constructed as part of the first Saudi expansion, which can accommodate 20,000 pilgrims per hour. The first and second phases of the expanded ground floor and first floor in addition to the existing area under first Saudi expansion can accommodate 5,000 and 15,000 people per hour respectively. The terrace of the first phase will be used only for performing prayers during Ramadan. The King also issued directives for the operation of some roads to facilitate movement of pilgrims in the central Haram area.
This included partial and temporary operation of the first ring road, starting from Ajyad Street toward Al-Qashashiyah tunnels passing through new Shaab Amer tunnels and intersecting with Masjidul Haram Road in Gazza and then passing through Al-Falaq tunnels and Jabal Al-Kaaba flyover and ending with Umm Al-Qura Road. The ring road is connected with the service roads of Umm Al-Qura and Jabal Al-Kaaba streets, and temporarily connected with Gazza and Masjidul Haram streets so as to ease traffic in central area. The King’s directive shows his keenness and efforts to serve Islam and Muslims by enabling pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque to perform their rituals in ease and comfort.