King opens work on Masjid al Haram extension
Jeddah, Aug 19: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia will officially launch a USD 10.6-billion extension project today for the Grand Masjid in Makkah, media reports said.
The project is intended to allow the complex to accommodate some two million worshippers at a time, the daily Asharq al-Awsat said.
The site, where 10,000 workers are already working round-the-clock covers an area of 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet).
The project envisages a multi-level extension on the north side of the complex, together with stairways and tunnels to facilitate worshippers access to the Masjid, built around Holy Kaaba.
The Grand Masjid underwent significant expansion in the mid-1980s, but the number of Muslim pilgrims has steadily grown, requiring another expansion.
Abdullah officially inaugurated the 601-metre (1,983-foot) Mecca Royal Clock Tower, topped with a gigantic four-faced clock that rises from behind the hills and helps visitors at other holy sites locate the Grand Mosque.
The clock tower is the world's second tallest building -- behind the Burj Khalifa, the 828-metre (2,717-foot) skyscraper inaugurated in Dubai early last year.
A proposed USD 10-billion high-speed train linking Jeddah to Medina via Makkah is also in the cards, with European and Asian companies locked in fierce competition for the project. AFP
Lastupdate on : Fri, 19 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 19 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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