410000 more pilgrims attended Hajj this year

In previous years, one pilgrim cycled his way to the Hajj from the Xinjiang region of China and two others pedalled from South Africa, covering 11,000 kilometres.

"I'm so happy to be a part of it this year", said 43-year-old Nigerian Mohammed Said, in the seamless two-piece white garment or "ihram" worn by male pilgrims.

Saudi officials said at the time that nearly 800 pilgrims were killed, but one unofficial tally put the death toll at more than 2,400.

More than 17,000 civil defense personnel have been deployed to serve Hajj pilgrims.

What is the hajj?

Similarly, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that a total of 865, 800 pilgrims had visited Madinah before the Hajj to pay homage to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and pray in His mosque. Every adult Muslim is obligated to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lives, provided that they are physically and financially able to do so.

Performing the Hajj is one of the "Five Pillars", or key practices, of Islam.

Almost 90,000 Iranians are expected to attend the Hajj this year for the first time since the 2015 crush.

"All the necessary measures to ensure Iranian pilgrims perform haj" were completed, an official statement carried on the Saudi press agency stated. The worshipers perform circumambulation of the Kaaba and offer prayers at the Holy Mosque.

- The next day, pilgrims gather on the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy) and the surrounding Mount Arafat plain, 10 kilometres southeast of Mina, where they remain until evening in supplication and devotion to God. They then shave their heads and perform an animal sacrifice before celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice.

In addition, more than half a million people in neighbouring Yemen have been infected with cholera and 1,975 people died since an epidemic began in April in that country, according to the WHO. In 2015, a stampede resulted in around 2,400 deaths, making it the worst catastrophe in the history of hajj.

"The platform provides an open window into their journeys and invites the world to learn and share the true values of Islam", the ministry said in a statement. The Saudi government is using the latest in crowd-control techniques to prevent trampling and architectural collapses.

  • Rogelio Becker