Expansion of Haram Ordered
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved an expansion of the Grand Mosque’s northern courtyard, Prince Miteb, minister of municipal and rural affairs. Prince Miteb said the project would include construction of pedestrian tunnels and a service station.
The royal approval covers expropriation of real estate on the northern and northwestern sides of the mosque, covering an area of 300,000 square meters.
“Special committees have begun estimating the value of real estate in the area in order to expropriate them for the purpose,” Prince Miteb told the Saudi Press Agency. “The technical team for the expansion will continue its work until the project is completed on time,” he added.
Sami Al-Harbi, a businessman who owns property in Shamiya, said most buildings in the area have been constructed in a haphazard manner. “The areas of Shamiya and Sulaimaniya, located close to the Haram, have not witnessed any major expansions in the past”.
Abdullah Sulaiman Al-Mushat, who owns hotels in Shamiya, said new real estate projects would spring up in the area in order to accommodate a growing number of Haj and Umrah pilgrims. He hoped the government would pay generous compensation to real estate owners in the area.
Hani Al-Hazimi, another Saudi businessman, said expropriation of land in the area started some time ago and that people were being compensated generously. “Some have got more than SR100 million,” he added.
Last year, the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques Affairs implemented several utility and service projects at a cost of SR1.2 billion.
Property Prices to Soar Due to Grand Mosque Expansion
JEDDAH, 28 January 2008 — The recent announcement to expand the north and northwestern courtyards of the Grand Mosque in Makkah is dramatically increasing real estate prices in the central area of the holy city with businessmen and analysts expecting prices to exceed SR1 million per square meter.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah approved the new expansion project earlier this month. The approval includes the acquisition of land and other properties, covering an area of 300,000 square meters. Special committees have begun estimating the value of real estate in the area and as many as 1,000 properties in the Shamiya and Shubaika areas will be demolished as part of the expansion project. The government has also allocated some SR6 billion to be paid in compensation for properties. Sources said the demolition of old buildings in the area would begin on March 9.
The project will change the face of Makkah with many families, who have been living in the area for several years, forced to find accommodation in other places. Shamiya and Shubaika, next to the massive prayer complex, are situated in one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world.
Analysts said land prices in the area would go up astronomically after the acquisition. Al-Sharief Mansour Abu Rayash, chairman of the Real Estate Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the announcement about the expansion had already increased prices to SR250,000 per square meter in some areas. He expects prices would shoot up to SR1 million as a result of growing projects.
Abu Rayash, who is on the committee for the evaluation of real estate for acquisition, said the panel would consider the distance of the property from the mosque. “The closer the property, the higher its price,” he said.
Hani Al-Amri, a real estate analyst, said owners of hotels, furnished villas and other properties in Shamiya, Marwah, Raquba and Jabal Al-Kaaba areas would demand high prices in compensation because of their proximity to the Grand Mosque. “This would in turn lead to increasing prices of real estate in the area,” he added. Average annual house rent in Makkah’s northern and eastern districts has reached SR20,000 to SR25,000 and in southeastern neighborhoods SR35,000.
Mohammed Shaker Al-Dahlawi, director of compensation at the Ministry of Transport, said those who purchase land in the area would be able to make a huge profit by constructing multi-story buildings. Al-Dahlawi, however, pointed out that low-income people, including pilgrims, would find it difficult to get accommodation close to the Haram after the demolition of buildings in Shamiya and Shubaika.
According to reports, the Shamiya neighborhood is more than 500 years old. Many well-known families have lived in areas close to the holy mosque for years. They include Hashim, Tayeb, Kurdi, Jifry, Yamani, Dahlan, Dahlawi, Zahid, Mufti, Fatani, Ghazawi, Turki, Gazzaz, Hariri, Kattan, Basarawi, Iraqi, Abu Mansour, Ojaimi, Rushaidi, Qusti, Shatta and Abu Al-Naja.
Demolitions Begin to Make Room for More Worshippers
12 March 2008 — Demolition of property to the north and northwest of the Grand Mosque in Makkah has begun to create more prayer space for a growing number of pilgrims and worshippers.
The new expansion project ordered by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will add more than 300,000 square meters to the existing mosque complex and help accommodate 500,000 more worshippers.
As many as 1,000 properties in the Shamiya and Shubaika neighborhoods will be demolished and the government has allocated SR6 billion in compensation for property owners.
The Saudi Electricity Company and Saudi Telecom Company have disconnected services to houses and hotels in those areas.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs is supervising the project, considered the largest expansion in the mosque’s history. At present the mosque can accommodate more than a million worshippers.
“This is one of the largest development projects related to the Grand Mosque and will change the face of the holy city,” said Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar.
Al-Bar said pedestrian tunnels would be constructed linking the northern areas with the mosque’s new courtyard as part of the expansion.
The project has dramatically increased real estate prices in the central area of the holy city.
Al-Sharief Mansour Abu Rayash, chairman of the Real Estate Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the announcement of the expansion itself had resulted in prices increasing to SR250,000 per square meter in some areas. He expects prices to shoot up to SR1 million eventually.
Hani Al-Amri, a real estate analyst, said owners of hotels, furnished apartments and other properties in Shamiya, Marwah, Raquba and Jabal Al-Kaaba areas would demand high prices in compensation because of their proximity to the Grand Mosque. “This would in turn lead to increasing prices of real estate in the area,” he added.
Mohammed Shaker Al-Dahlawi, director of compensation at the Ministry of Transport, said those who purchase land in the area would be able to make huge profits by constructing multistory buildings.
Al-Dahlawi, however, pointed out that low-income people, including pilgrims, would find it difficult to get accommodation close to the Haram after the demolitions.
The project will cover an entire area starting from Masjid Al-Haram Street and Gazza on the east to Jabal Al-Kaaba Street and Shubaika Graveyard on the west. It will also run through Abu Sufyan Street, Raquba Street, Abdullah ibn Zubair Street, Jabal Hindi and Khaled ibn Walid Street reaching Jabal Kaaba Street.