Saudi Arabia to build massive Islamic centre in Afghanistan

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Afghan devotees pray during Eid al-Adha at the Shah-e Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul on 26 October, 2012. Saudi Arabia will build a massive Islamic center complete with a university and a mosque in Kabul. Photo – AFP

An Afghan minister announced on Tuesday Saudi Arabia will build a major Islamic centre in Afghanistan which will include a university and a mosque.

AFP quoted Dayi-Ul Haq Abed, the acting Hajj and religious affairs minister, as saying that the “grand and unique” project, named after Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, will cost up to $100 million, and will be located at the centre on a hilltop in central Kabul. Up to 5,000 students will live in the seminary accommodation.

“The agreement was signed last week in Jeddah. The construction will start next year, in couple of months or so,” Abed said.

The mosque is similar to the Faisal Mosque in neighbouring Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad that was also built by Saudi petrodollars in 1980s.

The announcement said the centre will be run jointly by the Saudi and Afghan ministries of religious affairs.

Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries – along with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates – that recognised the hardline Islamist Taliban regime during its rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001.

The Taliban were overthrown in a US-led invasion shortly after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington for harbouring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but have waged an 11-year bloody insurgency in which thousands of people have lost their lives.

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