Part 1. Makkah Expansion Projects, past, present & future

0 Posted by - June 19, 2011 - Spotlight Project, Trends & New Thinking, Views & Interviews


Standing in the mosque looking at the new Abraj al Bait residential, Hotel, food & retail complex

At our meeting in the Hotel’s bustling Caffe Cino, Mr Ibrahim Atwa, Director of Business Development at the Makkah Hilton & Towers made the statement;


‘There is only one Makkah, there is only one black cube’


This was a perfect summary to the many questions I had asked him for my next blog series on expansion projects in Makkah.

In this series I shall blog first hand interviews, news, challenges and analysis about projects taking place in this city. In part 1 I scoured the net and ploughed through articles, press releases and other sources to compile tabled summaries of Makkah’s most prominent expansions past, present and future.


Introduction, The City of Makkah

Within the city of Makkah stands the heart and soul of Islam, the Kaaba. This majestic cube structure is draped in an exclusive heavy black and gold cloth. The gigantic mosque surrounding it and the huge skyscrapers overlooking it now dwarfs this once massive ancient ‘house of God’. These are all symbols of modernity, globalization and change this city is embracing.

In comparison to the time of the prophets or even 20 years ago present day Makkah has grown in size, changed in landscape and boasts an international diversity of Muslims who swarm to it from every corner of the Globe. Makkah has always been busy, before the advent of Islam it was an ancient trading city and now the place of pilgrimage every Muslim is obliged to visit once in their lives.

Recent reports suggest land prices in Makkah are the most expensive in the world at around $70,000 and $110,000 per sq. metre.


“These are genuinely the most exclusive real estate developments in the world, in the most sacred cities and on the most expensive land on Earth.”

Alpha1Estates International CEO


Makkah enjoys the Earth’s holiest structure, the most expensive real estate in the world, also the world’s largest religious tourist city as well. Tourism revenue in 2010 reached SR66 billion ($17.6 billion), according to the Center for Studies and Research at Asharqia Chamber. The group predicts that future revenue is expected to cross SR232 billion ($61 billion) by 2020.

Furthermore it is also the most lucrative and attractive investment city in the world enticing hotel brands such as The Fairmont, Raffles, Hilton, Intercontinental, Le Meridien, Hyatt, Movenpick etc. As well as food and restaurant giants and retailers all lining up to take their places.

Expansion Projects to the Masjid (mosque) and Makkah 632 – 2020


Click on images to enlarge

Expansion between the years 632 – 1611


Expansion between 1955 – 2009


Abraj Al Bait Project 2004-2011


Expansion Plans to 2020


Some of the main sources of information came from the following sites:


  • saajid amra April 6, 2013 - 11:32 pm Reply

    Salaam, part of the zamzam towers is actually a waqf for the haraam so this makes it more acceptable. The mall is also convenient for the pilgrims as they have access to shops for their needs. It is not easy to control and cater for so many visitors, makkah needs this infrastructure because even with the new huge hotels there is a hotel booking problems with all most all full in peek umrah periods. It is true that the poorer people aren’t being catered for adequately but makkah has yet to develop just like any other 21st century mega city. The haraam is very busy and some of the proposed haraam plans are quite impressive. I have been for umrah recently and expected to see a huge evil clock tower, but it has its uses and the smaller businesses are still there are not only the branded franchise companies in the malls.

  • Muhammad Yusuf Khan July 6, 2012 - 7:27 am Reply

    In my opinion these tall skyscraper hotels are for rich pilgrims and not for the poor pilgrims. They are accommodated far away from the mosque/kaaba. I do believe that a lot of money has been wasted, as all pilgrims have not been catered for.

    • alfazila August 22, 2012 - 8:11 am Reply

      You know why? Because it’s Saudi

  • Parwaz Kamal July 6, 2011 - 9:04 am Reply

    I have few questions on this project and kind of other projects:-

    1) Why can’t this project be started 20-30km ( radios ) away from MAKKAH.
    2) Why can’t a under ground or upper head Train work for the pilgrimages services.

    many other ideas comes into mind just because to save MAKKAH from pollution of traffic, smoke, sewerage etc etc

    The great demonstration of Project Management would be to build some thing which should save our holy places in original form as the rest of the world is doing with their loved ones.

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