(MENAFN - Arab News) Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah development project for Makkah will benefit all Muslims and will transform Makkah into a modern smart city, said Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, after visiting an exhibition of Makkah projects here Tuesday.
Prince Salman commended the efforts of King Abdullah for the developments of Makkah. "The Saudi government considers it a great honor to serve the Two Holy Mosques."
He emphasized the Kingdom's endeavors to ensure the security and comfort of the millions of pilgrims who come to the holy places every year to perform Haj and Umrah. The crown prince hoped that the King Abdullah development project for Makkah would be implemented in the best form. He praised the efforts of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal in developing Makkah and other cities in the region. The new development plan for Makkah is expected to cost SR 100 billion.
According to Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar, a record six million foreign pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah this year. At present there are nearly 500,000 foreign pilgrims from 70 countries in Makkah. Hajjar commended the various services being extended to pilgrims by the Interior and Foreign ministries, as well as governorates.
Prince Khaled briefed the crown prince earlier on the major projects being implemented in the region.
On arrival to the exhibition, Prince Salman was greeted by Prince Khaled, Deputy Gov. Abdul Aziz Al-Khodairy, Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar, and Sami Barhameen, secretary-general of the Makkah Development Authority.
Addressing a brief ceremony on the occasion, Prince Khaled thanked the crown prince for visiting the exhibition. "It shows our leadership's keen support for the development projects," the governor said, adding that a number of new projects are being implemented in Makkah to make it a smart city.
Prince Salman and other participants later watched a documentary on the King Abdullah development project for Makkah. Prince Salman admired the new Makkah projects.
The crown prince was accompanied by a number of princes and top officials including Prince Saud bin Naif, head of the crown prince's court, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and minerals and Prince Muhammad bin Salman, special adviser.
Last year King Abdullah launched the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in history, which will increase the mosque's capacity to more than 2.5 million worshippers and cost SR 80 billion. King Abdullah dedicated the new expansion to the Islamic world.
Saleh Al-Hosain, former head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, praised experts at Saudi universities for preparing the best environmentally friendly designs for the expansion, while incorporating high safety standards.
"As King Abdullah wished, the Islamic world as a whole will be proud of the new expansion project," Al-Hosain said.
A documentary screened during the ceremony said the expansion's main gate would be named after King Abdullah and will have two minarets, bringing the mosque's total number of minarets to 11.
Muhammad Al-Khozaim, vice president of the presidency, said the new project, covering 400,000 sq. meters in the northwest and northeast of the mosque, was the project of the century.
Abdul Mohsen Bin Humaid, director of projects, said the new project would be completed in a year and a half.