Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
International Islamic University Malaysia
(Shamiyyah was one of the neighborhoods pulled down to make way for the latest Holy Mosque expansion. It lied north and slightly northwest of the Ka’bah, occupying significant segments of the Qu’ayqi’an range of hills. Pictures courtesy of the Omraniyoun Company)
The late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (2005-2015), ordered in 2007 that a massive and unprecedented expansion of al-Masjid al-Haram be undertaken. The on-going expansion covers the Holy Mosque and its surrounding areas starting in the northern side in order to enable it to accommodate around 2.5 million worshippers at one time. In addition to erecting new buildings, King Abdullah’s expansion includes the expansion of the external areas of the Mosque, as well as restrooms, passageways, tunnels, and other ancillary facilities. The service area has also been developed, including the air conditioning and electricity plants and water supply facilities which all serve the needs of the Mosque. Upon its completion, planned in 2020, this latest expansion project will increase the area of the Mosque to approximately one million square meters. When King Abdullah died in January 23, 2015, he was succeeded by King Salman b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. Immediately following his investiture, King Salman clearly demonstrated his enthusiasm to carry through his predecessor’s al-Masjid al-Haram’s expansion scheme.