World's biggest clock begins ticking in Mecca

Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:29am EDT
 
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By Asma Alsharif

JEDDAH (Reuters) - A giant clock on a skyscraper in Islam's holiest city Mecca began ticking on Wednesday at the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, amid hopes by Saudi Arabia it will become the Muslim world's official timekeeper.

The Mecca Clock, which Riyadh says is the world's largest, has four faces measuring 43 meters in diameter.

It sits 400 meters up what will be the world's second-tallest skyscraper and largest hotel, overlooking the city's Holy Grand Mosque, which Muslims around the world turn to five times a day for prayer.

"The Holy Mecca Clock started with the order of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud ... one minute after 12 a.m. this morning, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan," Saudi state news agency SPA said.

Over 90 million pieces of colored glass mosaic embellish the sides of the clock, which has four faces each bearing a large inscription of the name "Allah." It is visible from all corners of the city, the state news agency said.

The clock tower is the landmark feature of the seven-tower King Abdulaziz Endowment hotel complex, being built by the private Saudi Binladen Group, which will have the largest floor area of any building in the world when it is complete. Local media have said the clock tower project cost $3 billion.

The clock is positioned on a 601-meter tower, which will become the second tallest inhabited building in the world when it is completed in three months' time.

"Because it based in front of the holy mosque the whole Islamic world will refer to Mecca time instead of Greenwich. The Mecca clock will become a symbol to all Muslims," said Hashim Adnan, a resident of nearby Jeddah who frequently visits Mecca.   Continued...

 
<p>The four-faced clock tower is seen under construction in the Holy City of Mecca August 11, 2010. REUTERS/Hassan Ali</p>