Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has instructed authorities to open the newly expanded areas of the Grand Mosque in Makkah for use by the growing number of Umrah pilgrims and worshippers. “King Salman has approved the opening of the completed areas of King Abdullah Haram Expansion Project for worshippers,” said Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques. The royal gesture will create additional space for at least 500,000 worshippers. The move is significant as it would help accommodate the thousands of pilgrims who come from different parts of the world for Umrah. King Salman’s order also comes at a time when the ongoing third phase of the mataf (circumambulation area around the Kaaba) expansion has denied access to some parts of the existing mosque for worshippers. “The opening of the expanded area of King Abdullah project would ensure smooth flow of pilgrims and worshippers,” Al-Sudais said. He added that the presidency would keep the area ready by providing prayer mats, light and sound systems, Qur’an copies and Zamzam water cans. The latest Haram Mosque expansion, which was launched by the late King Abdullah, was estimated to cost SR80 billion. It will increase the mosque’s capacity to two million worshippers while that of mataf 130,000 per hour. King Salman also ordered to provide translation of the Juma sermon at the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah in Turkish and Hausa languages in addition to English, French, Urdu and Malay.
King Salman also received a telephone call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two leaders discussed major regional and international developments and prospects of expanding bilateral ties.