(MENAFN - Arab News) The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques has begun the work of expansion of the mataf around the Kaaba, said Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the chief of the Presidency. The execution of the second stage of this project was begun by demolishing the old structure around the Kaaba.
Al-Sudais said that the area of the plaza will be expanded by an additional 25,000 square meters after the demolition. The completion of the second stage will increase the volume of the mataf to accommodate up to 75,000 worshippers circumambulating the Kaaba per hour.
He said that expansion work on the Al-Fath Gate and the area around it was also under construction. The open plazas to the north of this gate shall extend to Suaimaniya. The expansion will facilitate the movement of thousands of pilgrims who will be able to enter the Haram from the northern gates.
Al-Sudais said that another circular path was being built circumventing the open plaza of the Kaaba for disabled people. The circular path will be connected to the area for Sa'i and the disabled will be provided with motorized wheelchairs to perform the rituals with ease.
The second stage of the project is expected to be completed before Ramadan. Pilgrims will be able to perform the 'tawaf' both in the basement surrounding the Kaaba, the first floor and on the terrace. All the upper floors will be connected with escalators.
The growing number of Haj and Umrah pilgrims has made it necessary to create more room to accommodate them in the holy sites.
The expansion projects are in line with the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah who is taking a keen interest in the multimillion riyal expansion projects in Makkah and Madinah.