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

The annual hajj pilgrimage, one of the biggest religious events in the world, officially began on Monday. About two million pilgrims are expected in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for this year’s event, the first since the lifting of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

(Amr Nabil/Associated Press)

Muslim pilgrims pray in front of the Kaaba on Sundays. All Muslims are required to perform the five-day hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able to do so.

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

(Amr Nabil/Associated Press)

As the last pilgrims circled the Kaaba on Monday, others made their way on 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 Mina area in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

(Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)

Hundreds of buses are 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 scorching sun. Soldiers and police doused the pilgrims with water to cool them down.

A policeman sprinkles water on a Muslim pilgrim.

(Amr Nabil/Associated Press)

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

A Muslim pilgrim in a white robe rides a hand tricycle.

(Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

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

Muslim pilgrims rest at Mina tent camp.

(Amr Nabil/Associated Press)

A pilgrim reads the Koran at Mina Camp. Pilgrims pray all day and all night before heading to Mount Arafat on Tuesday, where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final sermon.

A Muslim reads the Koran.

(Amr Nabil/Associated Press)

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