Total cost of expansion works is expected to be more than $100 billion including land and infrastructure – report
Mecca’s mayor has said that construction projects to expand the capacity of the Grand Mosque and other Islamic holy sites will be completed within three years, enabling Saudi Arabia to accommodate more pilgrims.
Speaking to Reuters, Osama bin Fadl Al Bar said pilgrimage-related projects were a top priority for the kingdom. He asserted that they would be finished on time, despite the widespread delays that have hit the Saudi construction industry in the wake of low oil prices.
The total cost of the expansion work is expected to be more than $100 billion, Reuters said, adding that this would cover both land and infrastructure work.
“All of these projects are being developed to serve our guests and accommodate more of them,” said Bar.
The new King Abdulaziz International Airport and the Grand Mosque expansion will be finished by 2017 or 2018 at the latest, he said.
A high-speed railway between Mecca and Madinah is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016, with testing planned prior to its public launch in 2017, it was reported.
A final 4km-long tunnel project that includes two metro stations will also be completed by 2020, Bar added, pointing out that this will form part of the planned $16.5 billion Mecca metro project.
These planned works come on top of recent expansion projects and the construction of dozens of hotels in the Holy City. These include the world’s biggest clock tower and expanded access routes across Makkah, which have cost billions of dollars.
Once work on the Grand Mosque is finished, it will have a total capacity of 2.2 million worshippers, up from 600,000 currently.