Two million Muslims to perform Hajj today
31 August, 2017
MAKKAH: More than two million Muslims from around the world began performing the Haj rites Today. This year sees pilgrims from Iran return to Makkah in Saudi Arabia after a hiatus following a diplomatic spat between the regional rivals and a deadly stampede in 2015. It also comes with the Gulf mired in a major political crisis that has seen thousands of faithful who would usually make the journey from neighbouring Qatar stay away. Saudi authorities have mobilised vast resources including more than 100,000 security personnel to avoid a repeat of the stampede in 2015 in which nearly 2,300 people were killed.
Pilgrims take photos using their mobile phones, on top of the Jabal Al Rahma upon their arrival to Arafat.— AP
Iranian pilgrims were absent from last year’s Haj for the first time in decades after the regional rivals failed to agree on security and logistics.
This year’s pilgrimage comes amid a diplomatic crisis between a Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries and Qatar. Although Saudi Arabia relaxed entry restrictions across its land border with the emirate two weeks before the Haj, Qatar said only a few dozen of its nationals were able to join the pilgrimage.
On the esplanade of the Grand Mosque, Saudi authorities had placed misting fans to take the edge off the intense heat. Several times throughout the day, well-run teams of employees cleaned the esplanade with jets of water.