According to the developer, Jiwar Real Estate Management & Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the Saudi Binladin Group, work is currently taking place on levelling the ground to prepare for construction.

Previously, construction had been expected to begin by the end of 2008.

The development is close to the Masjid al-Haram, the holiest site in Islam.

Phase one of the Mecca project is expected to cover 824,000 square metres of the site, and the construction cost is expected to be SR10bn ($2.6bn).

The development comprises 21 towers in total. The first phase will feature nine towers and is to be constructed through a build-operate-transfer contract.

The project is one of several major developments planned for Mecca. Other schemes include the Abraj al-Bait; a collection of towers including a 577-metre tower, also being developed by Saudi Binladin Group and the $2.7bn Jabal Omar project (MEED 24:6:08).