Revealed: Saudi Arabia's projects for Haj 2015
The Kingdom has reportedly spent $125bn on arranging logistics for pilgrims since the 1950s, and the Grand Mosque Expansion Project is expected to accommodate 1.6 million more worshippers
Saudi Arabia, which has reportedly spent at least $125bn on logistics for pilgrims since the 1950s, has made elaborate arrangements for Hajj this year.
Major issues like housing, transportation, sanitation, and healthcare have been addressed by the Saudi government to alleviate pilgrim concerns.
Electronic gates have been installed at the entrance to Makkah to control the flow of pilgrims and to ensure that only those with Haj permits are allowed access.
The Grand Mosque Third Expansion project will increase the mosque's capacity to include 1.6 million more worshippers.
Mashhour Al-Munimi, deputy chief of the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said the project of the expansion and development of the Grand Mosque includes constructing another main building with its own entrance gate.
"The new building will include three stories of prayer areas and a basement as the main operating room for the building," Al-Munimi said, as per Arab News.
"Some of the domes of the building can open to allow fresh air into the building when the weather permits. The building will also have six new minarets at three different gates to announce the Adhan," he added.
He also said that the project also includes an external area for praying which will be shaded by 50 umbrellas.
"We will also build five new bridges linking several arenas together including the masaa (the running area between Safa and Marwa).
"The bridges will facilitate the movement and organisation of the crowds. Al-Safa Bridge will link the services center to main hall of the Grand Mosque and it spans up to 400 meters in length," said Al-Munimi.
There will also be two landing zones for aircraft and escalators, stairs and elevators to help people move around the area, he said.
"All areas of the Grand Mosque are suitably equipped for people with disabilities and special needs and the elderly. We have taken into consideration the use of renewable energy and natural resources in air conditioning and lighting," said Al-Munimi.
This will be in addition to the new facilities and services area which will have an area of 75,000sqm.
"The area will have an information desk, refreshments booths, environmental-friendly air conditioning and a cleaning unit to make sure waste is immediately discarded and the area is always clean. The project will also install 15 restrooms and toilet stalls," said Al-Munimi.
Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi said King Salman has directed all agencies to ensure speedy execution of the expansion projects in Makkah and Madinah.
The pilgrims, whose total number is likely to exceed three million this year, have already started pouring into Makkah and Medinah.