Makkah: Two new minarets are being added to Makkah's Haram Mosque as part of a huge expansion project.
The construction of the new King Abdullah Gate is also progressing well.
The two new minarets will form part of the giant gate located on the northern side of the mosque.
There will be a total of 11 minarets once construction work is complete, Gulf News has learnt from sources close to the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
So far, nearly 25 per cent of the expansion work has been completed. The expansion, which will change the face of the Haram area, was ordered by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in January 2008.
It will facilitate the accommodation of an additional 500,000 worshippers by creating more prayer space in the northern and northwestern parts of the mosque.
With the new expansion that will cover an area of 370,000 square metres, the mosque will have the total capacity to accommodate more than 1.2 million worshippers at a time.
On a tour of the construction site, Gulf News saw that construction work on the basement area was almost complete. With the help of advanced equipment, including giant cranes and forklifts, thousands of workers as well as engineers and technicians were seen working round-the-clock on the project.
According to the sources, one of the new minarets will be ready by the time Ramadan starts on August 1.
The demolition of rocky mountainous areas near the Jabal Al Kaaba zone is under way as part of measures to allow construction work on the new border area of the expanded mosque.
The sources told Gulf News that the expansion project will be a separate entity, and it will be linked to the main structure of the Haram Mosque through four giant bridges. Worshippers can enter the circumambulation area (Mataf) of the Kaaba through the northern courtyards.
Dr Mohammad Bin Nasser Al Khozaim, deputy head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said that construction work on the pattern of the same architectural design of the Haram Mosque is progressing well.
"More than 300,000 [square metres] will be added to the holy mosque on the northern side," Dr Al Khozaim said.
"There will also be supporting services and high-tech facilities such as those for drinking Zamzam water, the disposal of garbage, security monitoring, sunshade on the courtyards and the like. There will be bridges and escalators to facilitate [the] smooth flow of pilgrims to and from the mosque complex," he said.