The first group of Moroccan pilgrims, benefitting from the Saudi package of Hajj-linked facilities known as the “Mecca Road” Initiative, arrive at Medina’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Airport on Saturday evening. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Some 364,759 foreign pilgrims have arrived in the Saudi city of Medina until Friday in the run-up to next month’s annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage, according to a media report.

Medina’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport was the main entry point for the arrivals, a Saudi newspaper reported without giving specific figures.

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A total of 186,631 pilgrims have so far left Medina for Mecca for Hajj.

Occupancy rates at Medina hotels are currently estimated at 52 per cent of their overall capacity, the reported noted.

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As part of preparations for Hajj, the biggest Islamic congregation, health authorities in Medina have readied 18 hospitals, medical centres and health monitoring facilities at air and land outlets to provide services for the pilgrims, manned by medical and technical personnel of more than 21,000.

Around 3,344 pilgrims have benefitted from services at different health facilities in the first 10 days of the current Islamic lunar month of Dhul Qadah, which began on May 9.

Thousands of Muslims usually head to Medina before or after performing the Hajj rites.

They mostly land at Medina’s airport where they are welcomed in their native languages and presented with commemorative gifts.

They then flock to the Prophet’s Mosque, Islam’s second holiest place, to offer prayers and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) is located.

More than 280 million Muslims prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque during 2023, according to official Saudi figures.

More than 2 million Muslims from across the globe are expected to attend the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage in and around Mecca.