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Saudi Arabia approves $16.5 billion Mecca transport revamp - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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JEDDAH – (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has approved a 62 billion riyal ($16.5 billion) plan to modernize the transport system in its holy city of Mecca, including building a bus network and metro system, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.

More than 6 million visitors from across the world visit Mecca every year for the Haj and Omra pilgrimages. The influx has strained the narrow roads and outdated transport system.

Four metro lines of a total length of 182 km (114 miles) will be built across the city, with 88 stations, SPA reported.

Construction for the transport project will be carried out over about 10 years, the report said, without giving details of when it would start or how companies would bid for contracts.

Last year the city’s mayor told Reuters that within six years the government hoped to build new roads and foot bridges near the Grand Mosque, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba towards which Muslims turn in prayer.

Other long-term projects around the mosque include building hotels, malls and cafes. Developments in the suburbs include housing estates and a park for residents who have been made to relocate from the city center.

Saudi Arabia is also spending billions on upgrading the transport system in the capital Riyadh and on a high-speed rail line connecting Mecca with the holy city of Medina.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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