Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz yesterday evening chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers. Announcing that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had spent more than SR 70 billion (U.S. $ 18 billion) over the past decade on work at the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, including the expansion of both Holy Mosques as well as development of the areas surrounding them and the construction of tunnels, roads, and service networks, King Fahd stated: "When the Kingdom allocates part of its national income for expenditure on the Two Holy Mosques, it feels that by doing so, it is investing its money for the service of Islam and the Muslims. We believe that it is a great honor to spend our money in this way."
King Fahd reiterated that the Kingdom had undertaken the greatest expansion project in the history of the Two Holy Mosques in realization of its religious and historical responsibility, regarded as one of the pillars of its foundation, towards the Muslim world in general and the pilgrims and visitors to the holy sites in particular, stating: "The Kingdom, the cradle of Islam, will remain a source of power and strength for Muslims".
Recalling the announcement made to the Muslim World in 1948 by the late King Abdul Aziz concerning his intention to implement expansion projects at the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd noted that the total area of the Holy Mosque in Makkah is now 356,000 square meters, expanded from only 152,000 square meters, and the number of worshipers it can accommodate has increased from 340,000 to more than one million. As for the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, the total area is now 165,500 square meters, which can accommodate 700,000 worshipers comfortably and up to one million at the busiest times. The Prophet's Mosque itself has been expanded from only 16,000 square meters to 82,000 square meters. These expansion projects at the Two Holy Mosques stand as witness to the great service being extended by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Islam and the Muslims. Minister of Information Dr. Fouad Al-Farsi pointed out that King Fahd attaches great importance to them because of his deep belief that it is the responsibility of the Kingdom to enable Muslims to perform their rituals in comfort and ease.
Dr. Al-Farsi reported that the cabinet adopted a number of resolutions, notably concerning the official gazette, the newspaper Umm-Al-Qura. For the next fiscal year its budget will be part of that of the Ministry of Information, which will name a qualified person to undertake its management, study its situation, and decide on appropriate arrangements for its development. The Ministry of Information will coordinate with the Ministry of Finance and National Economy in this, and the cabinet will form a committee of experts in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, the Institute of Public Administration and King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, to study the best technical means for printing the documents published in the gazette.
The cabinet will resume its regular weekly meetings on Monday, March 4, 1996.