Dr. Muhammad Idris, director of the engineering department at the Institute for Hajj Research, has revealed plans for a nine-storey terrace at Jamarat, the site in Mina of the stoning ritual, in order to prevent incidents of stampeding in future. The new terrace will replace the existing two-tier one, and will be constructed in two stages, five stories as one unit in the first stage and the remaining four stories in the second stage. The announcement was made the day after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz ordered a project for the development of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the ritual sites, designed to meet the needs of pilgrims over the next 20 years. The 20-year project is to be undertaken by a Commission chaired by Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Mete’b bin Abdulaziz, with as members Governor of Makkah Province Prince Abdulmajeed bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah Province Prince Meqrin bin Abdulaziz, and Minister of Pilgrimage Iyad Madani.
The first stage of the new Jamarat terrace, when it is competed in two years’ time, will be able to accommodate up to three million pilgrims a day on its five levels. Once the nine levels are completed, the number would jump to nine million pilgrims a day. Pilgrims will ascend the bridge on ramps and stairs, with escalators and elevators for the handicapped. The project includes a number of different approaches to the area of the stoning ritual, by dedicated pathways allotted according to grouping plans for smooth pilgrim movement.
The new commission will not be in conflict with the existing Higher Commission for the Development of Makkah, according to its Secretary-General Dr. Sami Barhamin. Several large projects, he said, are already underway to improve the Holy City of Makkah, including an increase in car-parking capacity to 45,000 vehicles. To relieve traffic congestion, forty side roads leading to the Grand Mosque are envisaged, in addition to pedestrian tunnels under main streets to facilitate the movement of worshippers. One major project is that of Jebel Omar, overlooking the Mosque, where several hundred old buildings are due to be demolished to make way for 120 residential towers, each 20 floors high, with a total capacity for 100,000 people. Another is a multi-tower residential and shopping center that will rise from the site of the old Ajyad Hospital, located on the very edge of the Grand Mosque. A modern hospital will be incorporated as part of this center.