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Austrian shade for pilgrims in Mecca

In partnership with researchers from Vorarlberg, mechanical engineering company Liebherr Ehingen has produced a giant parasol for the Grand Mosque in Mecca. It spans out over 53 metres and its telescopic arms can be extended without the need for lubricant.

As part of the annual Hajj, the extensive grounds of the mosque – which is currently undergoing renovation – are visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, often in extremely high temperatures. Once the renovation is complete, the world’s largest and most significant mosque will be able to accommodate more than a million worshippers.

At a height of 30 metres and a breadth of 53 metres, the new addition is making a significant contribution to the shade available at the site. “It is likely the largest parasol of this kind in the world,” explains Alexander Diem from the V-Research institute in Dornbirn, whose team worked on the development, in an interview with the Austrian Press Agency APA.

The institute, based in Vorarlberg, is a member of the Austrian Cooperative Research (ACR) research network for medium-sized enterprises and specialises in industrial research and development, with a special focus on tribology. The shade is provided by a membrane which is stretched outwards by the eight extendible telescopic arms of the collapsible mega-parasol. It was therefore essential to find a solution where the fabric stretched out beneath the arms would not become contaminated with lubricants.

The necessary trials were carried out by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) as part of the COMET XTribology programme.