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World’s biggest umbrella being assembled in Saudi Arabia

Work has begun on the construction and installation of a new record breaking umbrella; the world’s largest folding umbrella is being installed in the northern courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia.

This is the first of the eight high-tech giant umbrellas and 54 small ones to be installed in the Grand Mosque in the coming six months to provide shade for the millions of worshippers that descend upon the area.

The German made umbrellas will consist of a huge clock, screens showing guidelines for worshippers, air-conditioners and surveillance cameras. Each umbrella will stand 45 meters tall and weigh a whopping 16 tons! Each umbrella will provide respite from the intense heat for up to 400,000 people, with an area of 2,400 square meters when open.

This innovative and ambitious project was ordered in late 2014 by King Abdullah, just a few weeks before his death. Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency, announced then that the King’s order came to provide shading for external plazas, in addition to the areas approved in the King Abdullah Expansion project, with an additional area estimated at 275,000 square meters. More than 300 canopies will provide shade from the sun to the visitors of the Grand Mosque, he said.

The German engineers have designed and programmed the umbrellas to fold and unfold in minutely delayed sequences to avoid collision between their moving parts. Their almost silent operation is automatically aligned with changes in the daily temperature. They open each morning, creating a translucent ceiling, and retract each evening in less than three minutes making them truly a marvel of design.


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