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2 million Muslim pilgrims expected in Saudi Arabia for hajj as pandemic restrictions ease

The annual hajj pilgrimage, one of the largest religious events in the world, officially began Monday. Roughly two million pilgrims are expected in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the event this year, the first since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Pilgrims have been doing the ritual circuit around Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba, since arriving in Mecca over recent days.

(Amr Nabil/The Associated Press)

Muslim pilgrims pray in front of the Kaaba on Sunday. All Muslims are required to make the five-day hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do it.

Hands of pilgrims in front of the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

(Amr Nabil/The Associated Press)

As the last pilgrims circumambulated the Kaaba on Monday, others made their way by foot or by bus to Mina, where they will camp in one of the largest tent cities in the world.

Thousands of white tents fill the area of Mina in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

(Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)

Hundreds of buses sit parked on the outskirts of the city of Mecca, ready to transport pilgrims.

Buses wait to transport pilgrims performing the hajj.

(Saudi Press Agency/Reuters)

Mina is vast and open, with little respite from the desert heat and blazing sun. Soldiers and police officers sprayed pilgrims with water to cool them down. 

A police officer sprays water on a Muslim pilgrim.

(Amr Nabil/The Associated Press)

 A disabled pilgrim on a hand-powered tricycle arrives in Mina.

A Muslim pilgrim in white robes rides a hand-powered tricycle.

(Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

Pilgrims rest after making their way to the Mina tent camp.

Muslim pilgrims rest at the Mina tent camp.

(Amr Nabil/The Associated Press)

A pilgrim reads from the Qur’an at the Mina camp. The pilgrims pray throughout the day and night before travelling on Tuesday to Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final sermon.

A Muslim man reads the Qur'an.

(Amr Nabil/The Associated Press)

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