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China helping to construct Great Mosque of Algiers

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-02-13 10:55
Some 2,300 workers, engineers and construction managers are working to complete the Great Mosque of Algiers in Algeria, despite its complexity. [Photo/Xinhua]

ALGIERS - Algeria is going to have one of the largest mosques in the world, as China State Construction Engineering Corporation is doubling efforts to finish this mega project in 2018.

The 265-meter-high minaret of the Great Mosque of Algiers, or Djamaa El Djazair, can be seen from all places in Algiers. It is the highest minaret in the world, and stands as a symbol of Muslim Algeria.

Present in Algeria for 30 years, CSCEC has already been taken part in the construction of mega projects, including housing, roads, highways, bridges, schools and hospitals.

Around 2,300 workers, engineers and construction managers are working hard for the timely delivery of the project despite its complexity, its numerous stakeholders, and the financial crisis that hit Algeria in recent years.

"By the end of the year, you will notice from the outside that all work will be accomplished," said project manager Wang Liangxue, adding that "for the sake of meeting deadlines, the workers have been subjected to an accelerated pace".

"They are working 24-hour shifts, and only bad weather could prevent them from working outside," he said.

Atop the minaret, reached after a climb of 37 floors, the Bay of Algiers can be seen in a breathtaking - some might say dizzying - view, looking down to the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and the ships loaded with goods awaiting for their turn to dock at the port.

On the far south side, the fertile Mitidja plain spreads over tens of kilometers before running into the majestic mountain ranges of the Blida Atlas.

Despite the rapid urbanization experienced by Algeria since independence, particularly in large cities such as Algiers, one can still distinguish the green orchards that are the pride of the country, since fruits are among the few products that this oil-rich nation does not import.

On the west, east and south sides, Algiers neighborhoods offer an alternating show of ancient architecture and modern buildings.

For those standing atop the minaret, everything is within reach of the eye, including famous places and monuments of the capital such as the ancient city of the Casbah, the Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Afrique, and El Aurassi Hotel.

While the Xinhua team went from one corner of the minaret to another, seeking out the best angles for photographs, the workers remained concentrated on the project before them, without even looking up.

"They are dedicated to their tasks; they do not have a minute to lose," said Cao Qi, deputy director of the planning department of CSCEC. Cao added that currently, a team is finalizing coating work of the dome.

That task requires the installation of a suspended platform of 33.6 meters high, demonstrating the firm's technical prowess in the field of construction and civil engineering, Cao said.

On the roof of the prayer hall, 40 meters from the ground level, Ali Djema, a young Algerian architect, is in charge of monitoring the implementation of the facades.

Djema said it is for him "a dream comes true" to work on such a giant, innovative and ingenious project. He showed how it is possible to shed daylight on the prayer hall through a system of reflectors installed between the inner and outer part of the dome.

Meanwhile, a rainwater drainage system is also being integrated in this project; rainwater will be collected in a huge tank, then used for gardens that adorn the mosque.

Once completed, Djamaa El Djazair will be the largest in Africa and the third largest in the world, after the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, both in Saudi Arabia.

Also, the mosque will include several independent buildings totaling more than 20 hectares, with a built-up area of more than 400,000 square meters.

Djamaa El Djazair will also be equipped with a conference room, a museum for Islamic art and history, a research center on the history of Algeria, the Koran House center, commercial buildings, a restaurant, a library, an amphitheater, a plaza, an underground parking with a capacity of 7,000 cars, and outbuildings dedicated to the security and maintenance of the building and its occupants.

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