Medina, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Governor of Medina province, Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, launched on Tuesday the Dar Al-Hijrah project, owned by the Kingdom’s Public Investments Fund and one of a wide range of development projects planned for the area surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque.
The 55-billion-Saudi-rial (14.6-billion-US-dollar) project, located 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) southwest of the Prophet’s Mosque—the second-holiest site for Muslims—comprises two towers including four- and five-star 120,000-capacity hotels with rooms totaling 40,000.
The towers will also house office spaces catering for 31,000 staff and will include offices for the Hajj Ministry and Central Hajj Committee in Medina, as well as spaces for travel, tourism and medical companies.
A 400-bed hospital will be located on the western side of the towers, in addition to a shopping mall.
The project is the largest launched in Medina by the Finance Ministry’s Public Investment Fund, which finances development projects both on behalf of the state and in partnership with the private sector.
Speaking at a news conference following the launch, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said: “There was total coordination between the Public Investment Fund and the relevant authorities, especially the [governorate] of the Medina region, the Higher Commission for the Development of Medina, and the Hajj Ministry. They were all partners in the design and the selection of the various parts of the project.”
Dar Al-Hijrah is part of a wider project to expand the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and develop the region surrounding it, which Assaf has called “the biggest Islamic project in the history of the [Prophet’s] Mosque.”
The Dar Al-Hijrah area will also be linked to a new planned Metro system in the city via a station that will allow up to 84,000 passengers to travel to and from the area to the Prophet’s Mosque. A shuttle bus service will also be available to ferry visitors within the area itself.
Assaf said Dar Al-Hijrah was a “unique project,” adding that it would serve visitors of Medina and as well as the city’s residents.
He said the project would be ready to start providing services within two years, once some of the hotels and other installations around the Prophet’s Mosque had been removed.
Nearly 12.2 million people visit Medina each year, and the city plays host to some 3 million pilgrims during the Hajj pilgrimage, who travel to the city after performing rites in Islam’s holiest site Mecca.