SPA: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque will play a key role in the committee supervising the Tawaf Area (Mataaf) expansion project.
The project will increase the capacity of the Tawaf Area from the current 50,000 pilgrims per hour to 130,000 per hour. The Presidency will cooperate with construction companies to ensure the continuity of Tawaf and that there is enough space for worshippers to pray in safety.
“The presidency will ensure the project meets its deadline of three years from now. The project will be carried out at the highest level of quality and solutions will be put in place to make up for the reduced capacity of the Tawaf Area during the construction of the project,” said Dr. Yusuf Al-Wabil, Assistant Undersecretary of the presidency.
The presidency’s plan will specify the routes, entrances and exits leading to and from the Grand Mosque.
“The plan will not disturb the course of the expansion plan. At the same time, there has to be space for those performing Tawaf,” he said.
Al-Wabil said the Maqam Ibrahim (Station of Ibrahim) and the Black Stone will not be affected by the expansion plan.
“The capacity of the Mataaf will not be affected, as the project will be carried out in the Old Haram. However, the entrances and exits to and from the Tawaf Area will be narrowed to some extent and there will be less space for people, as the area to be demolished can accommodate 100,000 people.”
However, the presidency will make space in other areas to compensate for the demolished area, Al-Wabil said.
“The Old Haram is being photographed and we are numbering the project zones. The project will kick off with the registering of the number ‘zero’ marking the departure of the last pilgrim from the Kingdom,” he said.
The project will be largely carried out by Saudi firms, with two German companies responsible for the isolation work and the pumping out of the dust resulting from the demolition.
The Dean of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Haj Research, Dr. Abdul Aziz Sarooji, described the Mataaf expansion project as a “qualitative change that would end the problem of crowding in the Tawaf Area”.