Riyadh: A Chinese company has won a contract to build a $1.8 billion monorail to carry pilgrims around the Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia announced during a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
China Railway Co. won the deal to construct the rail link between Mecca and the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, which are visited by massive tides of pilgrims during the annual Haj, the state news agency SPA said.
More than two million Muslims descend on Mecca each year for the pilgrimage.
The project was announced at a state dinner on Tuesday hosted by Saudi King Abdullah for Hu, who is on a three-day visit to to shore up economic relations with the Opec powerhouse and discuss energy supplies.
The project is set to be completed over two years, but will be ready to operate at 35% capacity for this year’s Haj, which falls at the end of November, SPA said.
According to media reports, the project comprises four elevated tracks intended to carry up to 20,000 passengers an hour.