The expansion of the mataf, or circumambulation area around the Kaaba, will be ready this Ramadan, with a capacity for 100,000 worshippers an hour. This was confirmed on Friday by Sultan Al-Qurashi, director of project management at the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, according to a report in Aleqtesadiah. The completed work would also include the third phase of the project such as the floors of the basement, ground and first floor. Some areas on the north side of the Grand Mosque would also be completed including squares, praying areas and toilets.
“We are currently working on utility buildings, which include government offices, the operations room, the headquarters of the security authorities, health department, Red Crescent, Civil Defense, and other related offices. About 95 percent of such buildings have been completed,” Al-Qurashi said. The expansion includes the most advanced electrical and mechanical systems, and is consistent with the current architectural style of the Grand Mosque, he said. The expansion on the Shami side was designed to begin from a point 200 meters north west of the Kaaba, and stretching out a further 458 meters, adding new spaces to accommodate more than a million worshipers, he said.
The expansion, which covers an area of 75,000 square meters, will include an integrated service station, environmentally friendly air-conditioning system, water tanks, waste disposal systems, centralized cleaning system, and 12,500 toilets. Meanwhile, the presidency has called on visitors to stay away from crowded areas, to prevent congestion that could be harmful for elderly pilgrims and help to spread various kinds of communicable diseases.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency, recently called on pilgrims to respect the sanctity of the two holy mosques and not cause distractions by taking pictures with cell phones and cameras. In addition, Al-Sudais urged worshipers at the mosque to make room for visitors and pilgrims from foreign countries. He also said they should not block the mataf when performing prayers.
The imam further appealed to women visitors to wear proper hijab and obey the instructions of the presidency’s women employees, especially if asked to move away from areas that block other worshipers.