Work will start shortly on expansion of an area close to the Holy Mosque in Makkah in order to accommodate the large numbers of pilgrims who come from around the world to perform Hajj and Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage). One project is to extend the northern courtyard of the Mosque by 1.2 million square meters. Arrangements are also being made to allow pilgrims into the vicinity of the Mosque at a rate of 10,000 in one hour. The major project is the multibillion-riyal Jabal Omar residential complex on the western side of the mosque. Construction of new multi-storey buildings will be for commercial as well as residential purposes, and there will be a new headquarters for the Hajj Research Center as well as a center for Islamic studies and a number of conference halls.
About two million pilgrims, 1.3 million of them from abroad, performed Hajj last year. Minister of Pilgrimage Iyad Madani has said he expects this number to be five percent higher this year. For umrah, more than three million faithful are expected over the course of 1425.
The Jabal Omar Tower Project will change the face of Makkah. One of the largest such schemes, it is expected to provide accommodation for 34,500 people. Spread over an area of 230,000 square meters, it will include five-star hotels, prayer facilities for 200,000 worshippers, 4,500 shops and 3,000 showrooms, commercial centers, a central transport station and parking for 12,000 vehicles. A joint stock company is being established to implement the residential project. Owners of land in the Jabal Omar area have the option either to join the new joint stock company or sell their property to it for development. The project site is bordered by Umm Al-Qura Street to the north, Duhlat Al-Rushd to the south, Ibrahim Al-Khalil Street to the east, and Al-Hafaer and Al-Tendbawi to the west.