The black cloth used to cover the House of God at Makkah costs SR22 million and takes eight full months to make, Abdullah Bajawda, Kiswa Factory manager, told a local daily.
“The ‘kiswa’ used to be previously bought abroad, but in 1927, the late King Abdulaziz ordered the construction of a special factory for manufacturing the cloth in the Ajyad district in Makkah, which was later relocated to the Tayseer district.”
The kiswa is made from the best types of natural silk and goes through different stages before being ready for use. This includes dyeing, weaving, designing, printing, embroidering, undergoing quality control at laboratory, assembling and delivering the kiswa to the head of the gatekeeper of the Holy Mosque, he said. “The work force at the factory is currently composed of 200 artisans, in addition to the factory’s administrative staff.” The kiswa contains gold threads weighing 120 kg and silver threads weighing 100 kg, which are mainly bought from Italy.”
Factory staff are only changed once new employees have gained experience from retiring staff.
“A total of 21 people completed a training course on how to handle the kiswa last year,” he said.
“Factory management has embarked on importing state-of-the-art technology from different countries to make the kiswa upon directives issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,” he said. “A number of teams were sent to Japan, the United States, Canada, China, Italy and Switzerland to explore the best machines to enhance productivity at the factory.”