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Major expansion of Tawaf area begins
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 04 - 2012

The expansion of the Mataf area in the Grand Mosque gets under way. — Okaz photo
By Ali Gharssan
and Salman Al-Salami
Okaz/Saudi Gazette
MAKKAH — The expansion of the Mataf, the area where pilgrims circumambulate the Holy Ka'ba, has officially begun. The project will increase the capacity of the Tawaf area from the current 52,000 pilgrims an hour to 130,000 an hour.
The Mataf expansion is part of a massive new development to expand the Grand Mosque. Over 10,000 construction workers are carrying out eight new projects in the area.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque is supervising these projects along with the Ministry of Higher Education which has assigned a group of academic experts to oversee the work.
Bin Laden Company is implementing the project.
Col. Massad Al-Zahrani, Commander of the Holy Haram Forces, told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that work on the projects would not affect the movement of worshippers over the coming 75 days.
Work will stop in the middle of Sha'aban (first week of July), the official added.
Al-Zahrani said the capacity of the Mataf will not be unduly affected. However, entrances and exits of the Tawaf area will be narrowed to some extent and there will be less space for people, as the demolished area can accommodate 100,000 people.
The entire expansion at the Grand Mosque will cost over SR40 billion and will increase the capacity to two million worshippers. The surrounding area will also be beautified.
The project includes construction of a new road network for buses, separate pedestrian routes with escalators and hundreds of new toilets.
The expansion will ease the flow of worshippers to and from the northern and western yards, away from traffic. __

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