Makkah's large iftar stretches for 12kmhttp://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/08/09/08/10243347.html
09/08/2008 12:04 AM | By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent Makkah: The squares within and outside the Holy Mosque of Makkah witness in Ramadan the biggest iftar in the world.
More than 12,000 metres of tablecloth are stretched daily for iftar along the Mosque area for worshippers to end their fast.
Officials in charge of the iftar in the Holy Mosque say its daily cost amounts to about one million Saudi riyals (Dh982,200).
Iftar does not take more than 15 minutes - from the time that people stretch the tablecloths out to the clearing of the remaining food.
The area where people take iftar is cleaned as fast as possible in order to leave room for people to perform Maghreb prayers.
The meal is served by various benefactors who are assisted by cleaning boys.
The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs divided the squares around the Holy Mosque into various sections and assigned them to charity givers willing to provide iftar for worshippers.
Iftar offered by these benefactors are made of dates, juice, milk, and cakes.
Dates and Zam Zam water are served first before iftar.Millions of dates
The number of dates consumed daily by worshippers in the Holy Mosque is estimated to be more than 5 million.
With about 1.2 million worshippers attending Maghreb prayers in the Holy Mosque, that huge number still only equates to three dates per person.
In the meantime, more than two million bottles of Zam Zam water are consumed by worshippers during iftar.
In the Tawaf area inside the Holy Mosque, the iftar tablecloths are not stretched until the last moment in order not to block the way for worshippers who want to finish the Tawaf rituals before Maghreb prayers.
Iftar inside the Mosque differ from that served in the outside squares.
It is not allowed to bring any food other than dates and coffee into the Holy Mosque to maintain the cleanliness of the Haram area.