Algeria – which is currently in the midst of political upheaval after its 82-year-old longest-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down earlier this month – will soon be the home of Africa’s largest mosque, Djama El Djazair – comprising the world’s tallest minaret at 265m – built by the state-backed China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) at a cost of $2bn.
Former President Bouteflika is said to have commissioned the project decades ago, and the scheme has now been completed despite facing issues related to cash flow and financial shortages that have reportedly plagued the Algerian economy.
CSCEC is the parent company of regional contracting giant China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East, which is led by Yu Tao, who was ranked third on the 2018 Construction Week Power 100 ranking.
Spanning 40ha, Djama El Djazair is the largest religious building built overseas by a Chinese company, and is the world’s third-largest mosque, following the 60ha Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad and the 41.6ha Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat on the list.
Africa’s largest mosque until Djama El Djazair’s construction was Casablanca, Morocco’s King Hassan II Mosque, which has a capacity of around 150,000 worshippers.
According to Chinese news outlet CGTN, Djama El Djazair comprises an engraved golden dome, with its world record-breaking minaret “visible from across Algiers”.
The report added that the minaret features an observation deck 37 floors above-ground, and the mosque’s complex includes a park, a public square, a fire station, a library, staff homes, and a religious school.
In a video, Chinese news agency Xinhua states that the mosque is designed to resist strong earthquakes and corrosion, and the CGTN report states that the structure can withstand a magnitude 9.0 quake as well.
CGTN reported that CSCEC won the project’s bid in 2011 and started construction work in August 2012.
Citing an interview with CSCEC’s general manager in Algeria, Zhou Sheng, the news outlet added that the contractor deployed 2,300 engineers, construction managers, and workers from China, Algeria, and other African nations for the project.
The mosque is equipped with solar panels and a system that allows the retention and recycling of rainwater, the report stated.