VIDEO: Pilgrims arrive in the Holy City of Makkah as Hajj rituals begin on Sunday - GulfToday

VIDEO: Pilgrims arrive in the Holy City of Makkah as Hajj rituals begin on Sunday


A pilgrim walks past a picture of Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz at King Abdulaziz International Airport, ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, in Jeddah, on Saturday. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Muslim pilgrims began arriving in the Holy City of Makkah on Saturday for the second downsized Hajj staged during the pandemic, circling the Holy Kaaba in masks and on distanced paths.

The religious rites will begin on Sunday. Only 60,000 fully vaccinated Saudi citizens and residents from more than 558,000 applicants have been chosen for the downsized pilgrimage.

The Kingdom hopes to repeat last year's success that saw no coronavirus outbreak during the five-day ritual of Hajj.

After being loaded on buses and brought to the Holy Grand Mosque, pilgrims began performing the "tawaf," the circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba, towards which Muslims around the world pray.

GrandMosque-HajjPilgrims arrive at the Holy Kaaba. AFP

Many pilgrims carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching heat.

GrandMosque-prayertimeSaudi security forces and staff perform prayer at the Grand Mosque. AFP

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj spokesman Hisham Al Saeed said that every three hours, 6,000 pilgrims enter to perform the tawaf of arrival. After each group leaves the Grand Mosque, a sterilisation process is carried out at the sanctuary, Hisham added.

HajiwomanA pilgrim wears an umbrella hat to protect herself from the sun in Makkah. AFP

The chosen pilgrims come from 150 countries, with a preference given to those performing the ritual for the first time, it added. Among the chosen ones this year was Ameen, a 58-year-old Indian contractor based in the eastern city of Dammam.

HajjtrackA pilgrim walks past a sign showing pilgrims' tracks to keep social distancing at the Grand Mosque. AP

Ameen was picked for the ritual along with his wife and three children. "We are overjoyed, because many of our friends and relatives were rejected," Ameen added.

WomenHajisWomen pilgrims arrive to attend Hajj. AFP

After being selected for this year Hajj, Egyptian pharmacist Mohammed El Eter said, I feel like I won a lottery. The 31-year-old Egyptian added, This is a special and unforgettable moment in someone's life. I thank God for granting me this opportunity to be accepted by many applicants.

HajisPilgrims arrive to attend the Hajj season in Makkah. AFP

On Sunday the pilgrims will move on to Mina, around five kilometres away from the Grand Mosque, ahead of the main rite at Mount Arafat, where it is believed that the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) delivered his final sermon.

Haji-Zamzam An official hands a bottle of water to a pilgrim at the Grand Mosque. AFP

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj has also said it is working on the highest levels of health precautions in light of coronavirus and the emergence of new variants.

Related articles