Saudi Focus

Expansion work on the Grand Mosque and other holy sites ... to be completed in about three years.

Expansion work on the Grand Mosque and other holy sites ... to be completed in about three years.

Pilgrimage expansion projects on track

October 2016

Construction projects to expand capacity at Makkah’s Grand Mosque and other Islamic holy sites will be completed in about three years, enabling Saudi Arabia to accommodate more pilgrims.

Osama bin Fadl Al Bar told Reuters the pilgrimage-related projects were a top state priority and would be finished on time, despite widespread delays in the Saudi construction sector.

The total cost of the expansion work, including both land and infrastructure, was expected to be about $100 billion.

The projects will be completed by 2020, he said. The new King Abdulaziz International Airport and the Grand Mosque expansion will both be finished in either 2017 or 2018. 

Haramain, a high-speed railway linking Makkah and Madinah, will be completed by the end of this year and will undergo testing before opening to the public in 2017.

A final project, a 4-km-long tunnel and two metro stations that will form part of the planned $16.5-billion Makkah metro, will be completed in 2020.

Saudi Arabia announced plans in June to increase the number of umrah pilgrims coming from abroad from six million in recent years to 15 million by 2020. 

After the expansion work is finished, the Grand Mosque will have a total capacity of 2.2 million worshippers, up from 600,000 currently. 

The Jamarat bridge, where pilgrims throw stones at pillars symbolising the devil, will handle up to 500,000 pilgrims at a time, or three million in total over the course of each hajj.




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