King Abdullah orders new expansion of the Haram

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Makkah: Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Eissa described the SR80 billion expansion project of the Grand Mosque as a landmark in the history of the two holy mosques of Islam. "It is because of the sacredness and glory of the location, which calls for the highest care and attention of the servants of Islam and Muslims. Those servants who spared no effort in fulfilling their covenant to their Lord will no doubt receive His blessings ever more," the minister said in a statement.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah laid the foundation stone for the historic expansion, which covers 400,000 square meters northwest and northeast of the mosque, and will increase its total capacity to more than 2.5 million.

The expansion projects are designed to make Haj and Umrah pilgrimages more comfortable and safer in the face of a phenomenal rise in the number of pilgrims over the past few years, Al-Eissa added.

"This momentous Islamic initiative to provide room for the increasing number of worshippers, particularly the expansion of the masaa (the running course between Safa and Marwa), will remove the hardships faced by pilgrims and enable them to perform their rites in a more relaxed and spiritual atmosphere," he said.

The minister added that King Abdullah always gave his priority to undertake tasks that would provide a serene and relaxed atmosphere for pilgrims in the holy cities.

GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani commended King Abdullah for initiating the new Haram expansion that would improve facilities for the guests of God. He said the new project would meet the requirements of the increasing number of pilgrims.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf announced the new expansion project would cost SR80 billion, which would include the money required to pay compensation to owners of real estates appropriated for the project.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2011 on page no. 25

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