They all shed symbols of worldly materialism, a state known as “ihram”.
In ihram, men wear a seamless two-piece shroud-like white garment, emphasising unity regardless of social status or nationality.
“Who did not get lost?” asked Hejar, one in a group of about 20 Algerians who draped their national flag over their shoulders to quickly identify each other among the uniform white towelling robe that all pilgrims must wear.
At the peak, pilgrims gather to enter the Hira’a cave where the prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) is believed to have spent much of his time pondering nature and creation.
Thousands of Indonesian pilgrims have arrived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and are preparing to head for the Arafah field to perform wukuf (staying), the ultimate haj ritual, on September 23.
Previously marred by stampedes and fires that killed hundreds, it had been largely incident-free for the past decade after safety improvements.
Pilgrims attend prayers outside the Grand mosque.
A suicide bomb attack claimed the lives of 15 people at a mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Abha last month (6 August).
The Ministry of Health says in addition to the permanent medical staff in Makkah province, where Mina and Mecca are located, 25 000 additional health workers have been deployed and 8 hospitals that are only used during this time of the year have been opened. “We’ve been targeted by terrorism for years now and we know that we are a target for terrorist groups”.
He told reporters Monday in Muna that security authorities have detected 12,850 violations so far and that 1,295 smugglers were detained for carrying illegal pilgrims, while authorities have also started legal action against 58 bogus offices engaged in cheating pilgrims.
The capital Riyadh saw a jump in infections last month.
Saudi Arabia is the country worst affected by MERS, with 532 deaths since the virus appeared in 2012. Middle East Airlines’ Chairman Mohammad Hout assured Lebanese pilgrims Sunday that his company’s flights to Saudi Arabia would transport all those wishing to perform the hajj before Tuesday. They have previously said that this year, more than 1.3 million pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom from around the world so far.
Nearly two million people are expected to take part in the gathering.
Ambassador Umar said the Nigerian corpses were buried Friday evening in a specially designated cemetery in Mecca where all the dead victims of the crash were buried.
Speaking at a press conference, he said that security had detained or sent back around 1,295 smugglers and almost 36,000 vehicles carrying illegal pilgrims.