Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan attend a ceremony for the launch of new development projects in Makkah on Nov. 7, 2004, when Abdullah was the crown prince. (AN photo by Mohammed Ali)
MAKKAH, 12 July 2007 — The Grand Mosque in Makkah is to see two new imams, Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Johani and Sheikh Mahir ibn Hamad Al-Muayqali, lead regular prayers according to a royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
Both sheikhs have previously led Ramadan night prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The two mosques of Makkah and Madinah have witnessed enormous development projects over the past two years since Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ascended the throne, said Muhammad Al-Khozaim, vice president of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques Affairs.
Speaking to Arab News on the second anniversary of King Abdullah’s ascension to the throne, Al-Khozaim said the king allocated SR10 billion for the comprehensive development of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
For the current year, the presidency has implemented several utility and service projects, at a cost of SR1.2 billion. The projects, which are aimed at maintaining safety and providing comfort to Haj and Umrah pilgrims, include the updating of the mosques’ cleaning system, improvements in the production of the Kiswah (cover of the Kaaba), new furnishings, and new signposts and instruction boards, said Al-Khozaim. Other activities at the prayer complex include updated arrangements for disabled pilgrims at the northern square, more than 110 shelves for the Holy Qur’an on the ground floor, and larger escalators leading to the bus stop at the western square. The presidency has also refurbished offices that house scholars who are consulted on religious issues by pilgrims, and the offices for personnel who overlook the distribution of Zam Zam.
The king also has ordered the expansion and development of the area between the Safa and Marwah and the air-conditioning of the whole built-up area of the Grand Mosque.
The Ajyad pedestrian bridge project that will link the first floor of the Haram Mosque with Ajyad Street has been launched with the aim of easing crowding at peak hours.
The 70-meter-long and 15-meter-wide bridge is expected to be complete by the beginning of Ramadan and will enable worshippers on the upper floors to reach Ajyad Street.
The presidency has also installed advanced cleaning systems for the Grand Mosque’s carpets and Zam Zam water drums at both the Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. Under the new system, more than 6,300 drums can be cleaned and disinfected in a week. The presidency has also established a technical unit to maintain and supervise the mosques’ computer networks and Internet systems. The presidency has also made arrangements to train employees working at the Haram.