King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz

Expansion Work at the Two Holy Mosques

Among the top achievements made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz, are the expansion works at the Two Holy Mosque sites in Makkah and in Madinah. The capacity of the Holy Mosque in Makah was extended to accommodate more than one million prayers; that of Madinah was extended to accommodate more than one million two thousand worshipers. Additional extension included the construction of surrounding lands.

The foundation stone for the expansion was led by the Custodian of the Holy Mosques in 02/02/1409 AH (i.e., 13/09/1988). The expansion consisted of horizontal extension of the ground floor and the first floor. The design included a brand new comprehensive central air conditioning system, a cooling station to be erected in Ajyad, necessary underground tunnels, pipes wiring, and air ducts. Upper air exhaust systems were built on the square columns to allow the circulation of cold air and water being pumped from the central air conditioning station in Ajyad.

The new expansion is completely harmonized in its general form with the previous expansion. The columns and the floor were coated with pure white marble, whereas the walls were coated on the inside and outside with black wavy marble and industrial stones covered with beautiful Islamic finishing ornaments, with 530 circular and square columns for a single floor.

In this expansion, fourteen gates were built to bring the total number of gates at the Two Holy Mosques to 112. These gates were made of good quality wood, coated with polished metal, with copper ornaments. The windows were made of yellow aluminum, decorated with polished and copper ornaments.

In Makkah, this expansion included building electrical escalators in the south and north corners, in addition to two other internal escalators to bring the total number of escalators to nine, not counting the fixed staircases located on the sides of the Holy Mosque. In 1411 AH (i.e., 1991) big yards; with heat-resistant marble fixing, lighting and furniture were created around the Mosque for additional prayer area, particularly at times of big crowds. The total area of these yards is 88,000 m². In 1415 AH (i.e., 1994), expansion work on the first floor of Saf'a area was completed. By widening the Saf'a opening circle located under the Saf'a dome, this greatly helped to facilitate the movement of those performing the hajj or Umrah.

In 1417 AH (i.e., 1996), expansion work at Marwah site was completed. The work was undertaken to alleviate overcrowding at this site; the space in the area was extended to 375 m² from 245 m². By 1417 AH (i.e., 1996), the expansion of the Marwah entrance to Sai on the first floor was completed; new gates were added on the ground and first floors to allow entrance and exit through the Marwah side.

In 1418 AH (i.e., 1997), the construction of the Ragubah bridge; linking the Holy Mosque to Ragubah, from The Marwah side was completed to facilitate crowd movement to and from the Holy Mosque. The bridge is 72 m long and 50 cm high, with a width ranging from ten meters and half to eleven meters and half. The bridge was built in accordance with modern constructional designs and in harmonizing with the external shape of the Holy Mosque.

In 1418 AH (i.e., 1997), the first floor access near Sai; at Safa corner used for Ka'bah circumvolution (i.e., Tawaf) on the first floor at times of overcrowding on the ground floor, was expanded to half of the Masah, becoming 9.20 meters wide and 70 meters long.

In the 22nd of Shawal 1418 AH (i.e., February19th, 1998) the cover of Maqam Ibrahim (Peace be Upon Him) was renewed in copper covered with golden, crystal and glass ornament sides. The strong beautiful crystal glass was heat and break resistant. It is shaped like a half-ball dome, has a weight of 1.750 kg, a height of 1.30 meters, a diameter at the bottom of 40 cm, and a thickness of 20 cm on all sides. Its external diameter at the bottom is 80 cm; and the base circumference of the dome is 2.51 m.

The new total area after the expansion of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques now stands at 366,168 m², with a prayer capacity of 460,000 worshippers under normal circumstances. After the expansion, the total numbers of worshippers inside the mosque, surface and yards is about 820,000 worshippers. With overcrowding, it can accommodate more than one million people.

For the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah also, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (God Bless Him) ordered expansion work. The work started on Friday 9th of Safar, 1405 AH. (i.e., October 29th, 1984). The expansion included building domes, work on the ground and first floors, and including a complete air conditioning system with all its extensions, its racks, air duct grilles, and four openings on each column to allow the circulation of cold air from the air conditioning station located underground in the west wing of the mosque.

Seven openings were built on the roof of the Mosque, with moving electric domes. These can be closed and opened as well, when necessary. The expansion included 41 gates with 8 huge 6 m by 3 m doors installed, in addition to six brand new minarets that are 104 meters high each.

Six moving electric escalators were built, four in each corner of the expansion; one in the middle of the eastern side and another in the middle of the western aisle. This was in addition to 18 fixed escalators with a concrete coating, and white pure "alabaster" marble, and external yards built to alleviate overcrowding.

A two-story underground car park with a capacity of 4,200 vehicles; capable of accommodating up to 4,500 vehicles at times of overcrowdings was built around the Mosque. These parking areas are connected to the Mosque yards by special pedestrian entrances equipped with 28 moving electric escalators. The parking also includes service buildings equipped with ablution units; toilets; and cold water taps, and other buildings for security units, clinics, etc.

Pipes were extended in length to be able to pump cold water to the Prophet's Mosque air conditioning, from the cooling plant through a 7 kilometer underground tunnel; 6.2 m wide, and 4, and 1m high.

This gigantic expansion work lasted for ten years till the time King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz (God Bless Him) laid the last brick on the 11th of Dhu Al Qaeda 1414 AH (i.e., the 22nd of April 1994). The yard at the Prophet's Mosque was extended to 82,000 m to a gross total area of 985,000 m accommodating 16,000 people. The surface area of 67,000 m can accommodate 90,000 people, meaning that the mosque can now accommodate more than 257,000 worshippers with a total area of 165,500 m². The yards, with an area of 135,000 m², can now accommodate 250,000 worshippers, and in event it becomes necessary to use the totality of prayer areas, it can accommodate up to 450,000 worshippers, increasing the capacity of the Mosque and adjoining yards by 700,000 prayers in normal days. At times of overcrowdings, the Mosque and its yards can accommodate about 1,200,000 worshippers.