Saudi Arabia has completed a project to install the world’s largest gold minaret on top of the newly-built giant clock tower in the holy town of Makkah .
The minaret and its base have been beefed up by massive loudspeakers that will emit prayers call to a distance of seven km while nearly 21,000 lamps will illuminate the surrounding area to a distance of 30 km.
“The world’s largest gold minaret has been installed on top of Makkah clock tower,” the Arabic language daily Okaz said.
“During occasions like Moslem Eids and new Hijri years, a 16-beam light will illuminate an area of a diameter of around 10 km while 21,000 lamps will beam white and green lights to a distance of 30 km,” the paper said without specifying the size of the minaret or say if it is all made of gold.
It said the light beams are intended to allow deaf persons or Moslems in far areas to know prayer timings in the western town of Makkah and nearby cities.
Inaugurating the clock tower in mid 2010, Saudi officials said they hoped it would establish Makkah as an alternate time standard to the Greenwich median.
The tower's height is around 601 metres, making it the world's second tallest building -- ahead of Taiwan's 509 metre Taipei 101, but well behind the Burj Khalifa, the 828 metre skyscraper in Dubai.
More than six times larger in diameter than London's famed Big Ben, the clock faces, with the Arabic words "In the Name of Allah" in huge lettering underneath.
The tower, which took two years to construct, is equipped with an elevator to take visitors to the surrounding balcony below the four clocks.
Nearly a month after it was set up, the clock tower triggered panic among Muslim pilgrims when it was shrouded with fog, mistaken for smoke from a fire.
Civil Defence vehicles rushed to the tower site after receiving numerous calls from pilgrims saying that the building is engulfed in smoke.
Officials said last year the Makkah clock would be linked to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC, also referred to as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Universal Time (UT), or "Zulu" is an international time scale used in astronomical and aviation publications, weather products, and other documents.
Formerly and still widely called GMT, UTC nominally reflects the mean solar time along the Earth's prime meridian. UTC is expressed using a 24-hour clock but can be converted into a 12-hour clock--AM and PM.