Algeria is set to build the third-largest mosque in the world facing the Bay of Algiers to hold 120,000 faithful, the government announced. "Its placement is symbolic. Algiers and its bay were witnesses to the centuries of resistance of the Algerian people" to invaders from the sea, religious affairs minister Boubdallah Ghlamallah said at a press conference. "Algeria lacks a great mosque emblematic of the period after independence. This project will be in keeping with the ambitions of the people of Algeria," he added. A more detailed description of this mega-project will be presented to the public. The government is not releasing the cost of the mosque, but local architects estimate that it will be about $3 billion (€2.1 billion).
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who revived interest in the longstanding project a few months ago, will pick the winning design from five proposals. A design competition was organized, drawing entries from 17 candidates from 11 countries. Architecture and engineering teams have joined the race to construct the Grand Mosque of Algiers, Minister of Religious Affairs Bouabdellah Ghlamallah announced. Ghlamallah added that in addition to four Algerian teams, groups from France, Germany, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Italy, Canada, Spain, South Korea and China are competing for the multi-billion-dollar project.
The ministry will name five finalists in late October. Although the mosque will be third-largest after Mecca and Medina, planners boast that the Bay of Algiers mosque will contain the tallest minaret in the world at 300 meters (984 feet) high. The mosque will feature several cultural and religious structures, a conference room, a Qur'an house, a centre for cultural sciences, three libraries and media centres, an amphitheatre, a laboratory, a 300-room hotel, a shopping centre, restaurants, green spaces and a recreational park. Construction is scheduled to start in 2009 with the inauguration planned for 2013.
The Grand Mosque has broad public support and planning changes may require more engineering and construction input later.-Alarabonline-