First Published: 2017-08-17

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion
Binladin Group to resume expansion of Grand Mosque in Mecca nearly two years after work stopped due to crane collapse that killed 107 people.
Middle East Online

Grand Mosque and surrounding area being developed to accommodate more pilgrims.

RIYADH - Saudi Binladin Group will restart work next month on the $26.6 billion expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, nearly two years after work stopped in the wake of a crane collapse at the site that killed 107 people, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Work will resume after the annual haj pilgrimage, and Saudi Binladin will pay outstanding salaries owed to staff involved in the project beginning on Aug. 20, according to a notice that the company sent to banks and which was seen by Reuters.

Banking and construction industry sources confirmed the plan. Saudi Binladin, one of the country's top construction conglomerates, and the the Ministry of Finance were not immediately available to comment.

Development of the Grand Mosque and its surrounding area to accommodate more worshippers was halted after the fatal construction accident in September 2015, and then remained on hold as government finances were squeezed by low oil prices.

The government is now enjoying a moderate recovery in oil income, and it is keen to resume work on big religious tourism and infrastructure schemes as part of a drive to diversify the economy beyond oil exports.

Its plan to restart construction at the Grand Mosque is a fresh sign of the rehabilitation of Saudi Binladin, which was temporarily banned from winning new state contracts after the crane collapse and has been damaged financially by a deep slump in the construction sector.

The Ministry of Finance has allocated a portion of this year's budget to key projects and has been in talks with Saudi Binladin in recent weeks about restarting several big schemes, the sources said. The ministry pledged to make payments that would enable Binladin to pay its staff, they said.

Another stalled government project in which Saudi Binladin is involved, the $3.5 billion construction of the Abraj Kudai hotel complex in Mecca, will restart in coming months, sources told Reuters earlier this week.

The company also restarted work earlier this year on the new King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah.

 

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues