FURTHER EXPANSION OF MASJID HARAM

Saudi authorities are working on a new expansion of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in the holy city of Makkah. T

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Saudi authorities are working on a new expansion of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in the holy city of Makkah. The plan, approved by King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, stipulates expropriating real estate on the northern and northwestern sides of the mosque, covering an area of 300,000 square metres. The current structure covers an area of 356,800 square metres. The expropriation and compensation policy was first adopted by late King Fahd in the 1980s. Under King Fahd, a new wing and an outdoor prayer area were added to the mosque. Another expansion saw the building of more minarets and prayer area in and around the mosque itself between 1988 and 2005. It also saw the addition of 18 gates, three domes and the installation of nearly 500 marble columns. In 2007, the entire mosque was fitted with air conditioning so that worshippers could perform their prayers in comfort. The new expansion would include the construction of separate roads for vehicles and pedestrians, service station, pedestrian tunnels equipped with elevators, and five monorails to link the holy sites. The cost of the expansion that has reportedly been earmarked is up to SAR 40 billion ($10.6 billion).