The Holy Shrines
A long time ago, the ascent to Mina, standing at Arafat, departure for Muzdalifah and other Hajj rites constituted no problem, due to the few numbers of pilgrims coming to the Holy Places for Hajj.
Advanced transport means, particularly aircraft, made traveling much easier, taking pilgrims only a few hours to reach the Holy Places. This in turn caused a new problem, but the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia applied several methods to solve it.
It is obligatory to camp within the religiously defined boundaries of the standing and gathering sites. Camping outside these limits will invalidate Hajj. To solve this problem the improvement and development of these sites were made within their religious boundaries so that they may accommodate larger numbers of pilgrims. Other supplementary measures were taken, such as prohibiting the entry of small vehicles into Makkah al Mukarramah and the Holy shrines at certain periods and efforts were made to provide ample space for all pilgrims to enable them to perform their rites in ease and comfort.
Several official agencies have contributed in making the required technical studies to achieve the aspired objective. These studies concluded that Holy Shrines could accommodate, God willing, three million pilgrims, half a million more than the number of pilgrims who came to the Holy Sites at any time in the past.
The studies and their implementation focused on the development of the plateau of Mina to increase its capacity to accommodate pilgrims. Highly advanced technology was used to demolish rocks, penetrate mountains, level high ground and implement road, bridge and tunnel projects. This has greatly helped in realizing the goals of these projects which cost billions of Saudi Riyals, although their benefit to pilgrims is limited to a few days after which they remain empty for the whole year, peopled only by those working on the development projects.
Mina Development Department
The Ministry of Public Works and Housing is a the forefront of official agencies responsible for the Holy Sites development projects. The Mina Projects Implementation Department was established in the Ministry and it is solely responsible for studying, designing and implementing these projects. Achievements until last year were as follows:-
It is 12 kilometers long and extends from a point on Taif road (between Al Adel and Al Sharaei) until it intersects road No. 1 to the south of Muzdalifah, penetrating it in a north-south direction and passig over two 2500 meters long and 15 meters wide parallel bridges. The two bridges are linked with roads running under them by 20 slopes to regulate movement between roads linking Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.
This bridge is linked with Makkah Al Mukarramahs external ring road and other roads leadig to it. It is a 2-way road with three lanes in each direction. Its total cost is SR340,000,000 including the road and the slopes.
This road is 8.5 kilometers long and 31.5 meters wide. It has three lanes in each direction separated by a 2-meter wide median strip and 3-meter wide mountain shoulders.
It extends from northern Muzdalifah (road No. 8) to Sheib Ali near the Holy mosque. It intersects or is linked with a number of roads, penetrating the mountain at Majarr Al Kabsh area through a 2-way, 800 meters long tunnel. Then it joins a bridge spanning Al Adel Square and continues westward where it intersects Al Aziziyah road and joins another bridge followed by a pair of 2-way, 950-meter long tunnels linked with the road leading to Sheib Ali in Makkah Al Mukarramah. It then extends to Makkah al Mukarramah internal ring road.
The total cost of this project is SR500,000,000 - tunnels, bridges and intersections included.
It is a main road to the south of Mina linked to Makkah Al Mukarramahs external ring road. It passes over a number of bridges and joins a number of roads till it reaches the Holy Mosques area.
It is 9.5 kilometers long and 31.20 meters wide with six lanes, three in each direction. It has five bridges and two 14 meters wide tunnels, one in each direction. Its total cost is SR520,000,000.
The main objective of building this road to the south of Jamarat area is to divert traffic from Jamarat area to Al Azizyah, Al Muaisem and King Fahd road. It extends from Thowr mountain to Mina valley and Makkah Al Mukarramahs external ring road, joining on its course a number of roads and slopes.
It is 8 kilometers long and 31.20 meters wide, with six lanes, three in each direction. It has two bridges, one inside Mina area and the other at Al Azizyah. Eleven slopes are linked to this road.
The two bridges are 780 meters long, spanning eight 600 meters long tunnels, four in each direction. The total of the first phase is SR270,000,000.
Arafat is linked with Muzdalifah by two 30-meters wide pedestrian roads. The two roads meet in Muzdalifah to form one 60 meters wide road extending to the entrance of Mina, where it becomes a 30-meters wide pedestrian road. Then it is divided into two branches, one leading to Jamarat bridge and the other to the Holy Mosque, thus becoming the shortest road to the Holy Mosque. It is completely covered in addition to the necessary lighting, automatic ventilation and required facilities, such as water, toilets and food stores.
This road is 7 kilometers long. The combined length of its bridges is 470 metes while the length of tunnels is 1830 meters. It has four 12.5 meters wide tunnels, one in each direction.
The total cost of the road, its branches, bridges and tunnels is SR445,000,000.
The purpose of this project is to separate the camping areas from the road by concrete barriers which make the camping areas 30 cm higher than the road. This involves the construction of supporting walls at places of steep slopes to prepare more leveled ground for accommodation of greater numbers of pilgrims.
The leveled areas totaled 2,000,000 sq. meters and were organized in such a way that cars cannot enter camping areas. These areas were provided with the necessary public utilities and graded to allow normal storm water drainage.
The total cost of the project is SR90,000,000.
This is a unique project using advanced technology. It involved the removal of 500,000 cubic meters of rocks to expand the areas suitable for camping together with the necessary roads, water, sewerage and lighting networks, toilets and garbage tamping equipment.
The first phase of this project costs SR37,000,000.
The Masaa in the first Saudi expansion consisted of two stories, a futuristic approach taking into consideration the annual increase in the number of pilgrims.
It was 394.5 metes long and 20 meters wide. The first story was 12 meters high and the second 9 meters high. This not only made SaI easier but also provided wide space accommodating big numbers of worshippers, thus easing the overcrowding in the Mosque. The building of the Masaas upper story was approved by a religious ruling.
A barrier was built to divide the Masaa into two parallel parts: one for performing SaI towards the direction of Safa and the second towards Marwah. A 2-way narrow path between the two parts was established for the disabled and those who could not walk or stirde.
There are stairs for ascent and descent at both Safa and Marwah.
The Masaa has 16 gates on its eastern side. At the second floor, two gates, one at Safa and the other at Marwah, lead to the Holy Haram from outside. The two gates are raised above the ground to the level of the praying surface. Inside the Mosque, two stairs lead to the secod floor, one at Safa gate and the other at Al Salam gate. Below the first floor there is a 3.5 meter high basement with its roof at the level of the ground.
To protect the Mosque from floods, a 5-meter wide and 4-6 meter high special course was dug. It runs under the pavement of Gashashiya Streets southern side and passes beneath Safa area as well as the New Streets pavement. This diverted the storm water drainage course that in the past penetrated the Masaa and leaked water through the Mosques gates.
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