The first line will be 11km long with seven stations and will be mostly underground. It will run from the Jamrat region in Mina west via the northern side of the Grand Mosque, King Abdul Aziz Road, and the Haramain high-speed station in Rusaifa to the Mecca-Jeddah Expressway.

The second line will be partially underground and will be 33km long with 15 stations. It will start in Madinah Road north of Taneem Mosque, then run south along the western side of the Grand Mosque, and via King Abdulaziz Towers, Azizia Street and Taif-Karr Road to Umm Al-Qura University.

"We will begin procedures this week for the qualification of contractors to award contracts in the first quarter of 2014," Mr Saad Al-Qadi, CEO of Mecca Trains Company. This will enable construction on the Riyals 25.5bn ($US 6.8bn) project to start by mid-2014. Construction is expected to take three years to complete.

The two lines are part of a longer-term plan to build four metro lines totalling 114km with 88 stations along with a bus network. Mecca's first line, the Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugadassah metro, opened in 2010. The 18km line links the pilgrimage sites of Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafat.