Pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on June 9, 2024. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage are in their final stages as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world gear up for their spiritual journey in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Already, more than 1.3 million pilgrims have converged in the holy city. Some arrived directly via Jeddah, while others first visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina before making their way to Mecca.

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Dressed in the white seamless Ihram, pilgrims are getting ready to move to Mina on Friday, Dhul Hijjah 8 (June 14), which marks the beginning of this year’s Hajj.

They will spend a day and night in Mina before proceeding to the plains of Arafat, a significant rite considered the pinnacle of the Hajj pilgrimage.
In an atmosphere brimming with spirituality and faith, pilgrims are engaged in prayers and supplications near the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque.

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Saudi authorities have ensured a comprehensive system of services to facilitate pilgrims in performing their rituals with ease and comfort.

Just last Friday, over a million pilgrims gathered at the Grand Mosque for the last prayer before Hajj, with worshippers extending into the courtyards and nearby streets.

This year, pilgrims from nearly 180 countries, including diverse regions such as Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, are participating in Hajj.

The Mashariq Al Masiyah Mutawafi Company has confirmed the arrival of groups from 16 countries.

Additionally, the first groups of pilgrims from the United States, France, Italy, and Germany have arrived under the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s direct Hajj program.

The Mecca Route Initiative has facilitated about 250,000 pilgrims from seven countries and 11 international airports, enabling them to complete immigration and other travel procedures in their home countries before departure.
Security measures are robust, with special forces deployed at all entry points to Mecca and the Holy Sites to ensure the safety of the pilgrims and maintain law and order.

Lt. Gen. Mohammad Al Bassami, director of Public Security and head of the Hajj Security Committee, emphasized that the security of the pilgrims and the sanctity of the holy sites are of utmost priority, with strict actions ready against any security threats.