“After the Hajj this year, in one months’ time, the bulldozers will move in and will start to demolish the last part of Mecca, the grand mosque which is at least 1,000 years old,” Dr. Irfan Alawi of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told RT.
After the reconstruction, the mosque is expected to become the world’s largest building, with a capacity for 1.6 million people.
And while the need to expand does exist as more pilgrims are flocking to holy sites every year, nothing has been said on how the project will affect the surroundings of the mosque, also historic sites.
Concerns are growing that the expansion of Masjid an-Nabawi will come at the price of three of the world’s oldest mosques nearby, which hold the tombs of Prophet Mohammed and two of his closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. The expansion project which will cost 25 billion SAR (more than US $6 billion) reportedly requires razing holy sites, as old as the seventh century.