Mecca mayor says no delays on pilgrimage expansion projects

Construction projects to expand capacity at Mecca's Grand Mosque and other Islamic holy sites will be completed in about three years, enabling Saudi Arabia to accommodate more pilgrims, Mecca's mayor told Reuters on Friday.

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Muslim pilgrims pray during Friday prayers at the Grand mosque in Mecca September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Construction projects to expand capacity at Mecca’s Grand Mosque and other Islamic holy sites will be completed in about three years, enabling Saudi Arabia to accommodate more pilgrims, Mecca’s mayor told Reuters on Friday.

Osama bin Fadl Al-Bar said the pilgrimage-related projects were a top state priority and would be finished on time, despite widespread delays in the Saudi construction sector as the kingdom grapples with the effects of sustained low oil prices.

“All of these projects are being developed to serve our guests and accommodate more of them,” said Bar, dressed in traditional robes and seated on a plush green leather sofa during an interview at his office in Mecca’s municipal building.

The projects will be completed by 2020, he said. The new King Abdulaziz International Airport and the Grand Mosque expansion will both be finished in either 2017 or 2018.

Haramain, a high-speed railway linking the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, will be completed in late 2016 and will undergo testing before opening to the public in 2017. More info

By Dahlia Nehme  http://www.reuters.com/

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