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Millions of worshippers have reached Mecca — Islam's holiest city — for the biggest Hajj pilgrimage in years, despite the sweltering Saudi Arabian heat.

This year's Hajj one of the world's biggest annual religious gatherings, could break attendance records, Saudi officials said, expecting that the number of pilgrims in 2023 to reach pre-pandemic levels as this year's Hajj will be the first without the curbs imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 1.5 million foreign pilgrims have arrived in the country so far for the annual pilgrimage, according to officials.

'As the hajj draws near, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia prepares- for the largest Islamic gathering in history,' Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said in a video published by the ministry this week.

More than two million people from more than 160 countries will attend, Rabiah said a dramatic increase on the 926,000 from last year, when numbers were capped at one million post-pandemic.

On Friday, pilgrims in white robes and sandals were seen dotting the holy city as they came in on planes, buses and trains.

The Hajj is among the five pillars of Islam and must be undertaken by all Muslims with the means at least once in their lives.

Rites include circling the Kaaba, the large holy black cube in Mecca's Grand Mosque, praying on Mount Arafat and stoning the devil, a symbolic rite in which pilgrims throw pebbles at three giant concrete walls representing Satan.

Original Article Source: Al Manar | Published on Friday, 23 June 2023 08:11 (about 339 days ago)