Saudi officials say nearly 1.5 million foreign pilgrims have arrived in the country so far for the annual hajj pilgrimage
Muslim pilgrims pray at the Grand Mosque, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, June 22, 2023. Muslim pilgrims gather in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca for the largest hajj since the coronavirus pandemic one of the five pillars of Islam. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
The associated press
MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Saudi officials say nearly 1.5 million foreign pilgrims have so far arrived in the country for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the vast majority by air.
This year’s pilgrimage will be the first without the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, starting in 2020. More pilgrims are expected for the start of Hajj on Monday.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims are required to undertake it at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able. It is one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.
The Saudi media ministry said on Thursday that more than 1.49 million foreign pilgrims had arrived through its international ports through Wednesday, including 1.43 million by air.
Saudi officials have said they expect the number of pilgrims to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023. In 2019, more than 2.4 million Muslims made the pilgrimage.