MAKKAH – The Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has refuted all media reports about the date of opening of the temporary mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy Ka’ba) for pilgrims with special needs.
“No date has been set for its opening until this moment,” said Ahmad Al-Mansouri, director of public relations at the Presidency.
He was responding to press reports that predicted different dates for the opening of the raised mataf area for wheelchair pilgrims in the last few days.
“We are racing against time to finish work of the mataf at the earliest possible time. There are certain arrangements to be completed before starting its operation, and these include putting the project’s efficiency and capacity to test,” he said, adding that this mataf for wheelchair pilgrims will be opened only after ensuring its fitness 100 percent.
Al-Mansouri said that the mataf was built in the form of a circular ring adjacent to the partially demolished old porch and overlooking Islam’s holiest shrine with a width of 12 meters and a height of 34 meters. This raised platform aims to facilitate ritual of tawaf (circumambulation) for the disabled and elderly pilgrims until the completion of the mataf expansion.
The temporary mataf would have two levels, of which the upper level will be linked to the first floor of the Grand Mosque and it will have two main and branch entrances and an emergency exit. This level is expected to be opened during this Ramadan. The lower level, which will be linked to the ground floor of the Grand Mosque, will be implemented in the second phase after the Umrah season.
Authorities have stepped up preparations to receive over one million pilgrims who are expected to throng the Grand Mosque in the second half of Ramadan to perform Umrah and attend special prayers, especially in the last 10 days of the holy month.