Demolition drive for first phase of Haram expansion coming to a close

The demolition of over 2,000 properties as part of the first phase of the expansion of the northern courtyard of the Grand Mosque has nearly finished, said Assam Al-Turaimi, deputy chairman of the committee overlooking the expansion.

A total SR30 billion has also been disbursed to the owners of 2,250 properties. “The remaining compensation will be distributed once procedures are complete. SR40 billion has been set aside to pay the owners of properties that have been acquired for the first phase of the project. Another 961 properties will also be acquired for the second phase of the project, which is the largest ever expansion in the history of the Grand Mosque,” said Al-Turaimi.

The expansion, which will change the face of Grand Mosque area once complete, was ordered by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in January 2008 and will facilitate the accommodation of an additional 500,000 worshippers in the massive prayer complex by creating space in the northern and northwestern parts of the mosque.

The new expansion will cover an area of 370,000 square meters, and includes the building of new hotels, residential facilities, commercial centers and public utilities.

Al-Turaimi said building owners are being provided with alternative plots of land or cash. “There are some properties, whose owners have not yet appeared before the concerned committee with their original title deeds. Such properties will be registered as government properties. If there are any claims by their owners in future, they will be given compensation once necessary procedures are completed,” he said, adding that real estate is being valued by an expert committee comprising representatives of various agencies and departments.

According to Al-Turaimi, properties that will be expropriated in the second phase include 386 plots for the expansion of the northern courtyard, 341 plots for the construction of pedestrian tunnels and 235 plots for the central service station.

There will be two pedestrian tunnels to the Grand Mosque — one will start from the headquarters of the Civil Defense on Hajoun Street and the other from the vegetable market in Jarwal on Omar bin Abdul Aziz Street. There will also be an emergency tunnel that will start from Khaled bin Al-Waleed Street and join the two tunnels.

Meanwhile, Saad Al-Sharif, a real estate expert, said that the move to buy properties for the second phase of the expansion and the subsequent high liquidity has spurred the city’s real estate market. “The value of properties have soared from SR300,000 to SR450,000. Owners of some properties have delayed selling while others have doubled their prices. A large number of citizens, whose properties have been expropriated for the expansion, have moved elsewhere and built residential apartments,” he added. – Arabnews