Grand Mosque courtyard undergoes demolition
Images shows sections of mosque dismantled as part of expansion work
A British newspaper has obtained pictures showing dismantling work taking place to sections of Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque as part of its expansion plans.
The Independent has revealed how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca.
The building is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba – the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba, The Independent says.
Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns in Mecca were inscribed with intricate Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in his life.
To accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims heading to the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year the Saudi authorities have embarked upon a massive expansion project.
The Al-Haram will initially consist of four floors and will have two more floors added in the future.
The project will also see the construction of 63 hotel towers as well as the installation of central air-conditioning in the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project.
A study is also underway to connect all courtyards of the mosque with Mataf area via escalators to facilitate a steady flow of pilgrims.
The Grand Mosque expansion project consists of three main areas, with the first being the expansion of Al-Haram itself to accommodate two million worshippers.
The second phase includes the development of exterior areas such as rest rooms, tunnels, and other services to ensure the smooth movement of worshippers throughout the site.
The third involves a support services area that includes a district cooling plant, an electricity station, water stations, and other services.