Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that nearly 1,600 Chinese employed by a company building Makkah’s first metro railway have converted to Islam.
The Government Islamic Guidance Centre in Makkah, Islam’s holiest shrine, said all the converters are workers in the train project that was launched three years ago at a cost of around SR6.7 billion (Dh6.6 billion).
“The Centre held a reception for nearly 1,600 Chinese who embraced Islam and gave them token gifts on the occasion of Eid al Fitr,” Al Madina daily said.
Saudi officials said nearly 35 per cent of the train project had been completed and it would be able to transport around130,000 pilgrims through the holy sites in this year’s Haj season scheduled to start in November. After it is fully commissioned within two years, it will have a capacity for two million pilgrims.
The officials said the train would begin service this year for the first time in Makkah’s history, adding that it would largely contribute to easing road congestions caused by the accumulation of thousands of cars near Makkah.
China Railway Construction Corp, part of a Saudi-French-Chinese consortium which won the contract, is building the metro, dubbed the “'Holy Rituals Train”.
More than two million Muslims from Saudi Arabia, neighbouring Gulf countries and other nations descend on Makkah every year to perform Haj.