SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — The recently announced expansion works on the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah will begin after the Hajj season this year, a reliable source said.
Compensation payment to the owners of the expropriated properties for the project will also be completed by that time, the source told a local daily.
Compensation per square meter is fixed at SR 400,000. According to preliminary estimation, SR 25 billion will be paid to the properties covering an area of 12.5 hectare of land, including 100 buildings.
The buildings that are to be removed for the project include the old Maternity Hospital, some hotels, the Ashqi Building, Awqaf 2 Building and Al-Muhammadiah Waqf on the eastern side. The King Abdul Aziz Library building and some markets are to be removed on the western side.
Saudi King Abdullah ordered last month that the expansion of the Prophet's Mosque should accommodate more than 1.6 million worshippers.
The expansion project is to be implemented in three phases. The first phase will accommodate more than 800,000 worshippers while the second and third will bring the total capacity of people the mosque can accommodate to 1.6 million.
Currently the maximum capacity of the mosque at peak times is close to 550,000 worshipers.
The expansion work will enable smooth pedestrian movement. It will also consider the architectural design of nearby buildings.
Public squares close to the mosque and utilities in the area will also be improved. The area will also be developed as the heart of the city according to the plan. The existing hotels in the expansion area will be allowed to operate until the actual works begin, according to the source.
Meanwhile Sheikh Yusuf Salamah, a member of the founding committee of the Muslim World League, commended King Abdullah's decision to expand the Prophet's Mosque. "King Abdullah, in the first place, seeks to increase the ease and comfort of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims," Salamah said.
President of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, who is also imam at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, described the new expansion project as unprecedented, saying the area of the mosque and surrounding courtyards would cover an area of 1.1 million square meters after the completion of the project. — www.shafaqna.com/english/