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Pilgrims' first group arrives at Makkah to perform Hajj rituals

Pilgrims' first group arrives at Makkah to perform Hajj rituals
July 17, 2021

MAKKAH AL-MUKARRAMAH (AFP) – The first group of pilgrims arrive at the Grand Mosque of Makkah to perform the Tawaf (circling of the Ka'aba) during the second downsized Hajj staged amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The pilgrims will be transported to Mina before Zohr prayers on 8th Zilhajj. The Hajj sermon will be delivered in Nimra Mosque.

Up to 60,000 Muslims residing in Saudi Arabia are allowed to take part in this year's Hajj, evoking the envy and awe of millions of international pilgrims who have been barred for the second year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual ritual is a central pillar of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime.

The five-day Hajj, which starts from Saturday, is confined to residents of the kingdom who have been fully vaccinated and are aged 18-65 with no chronic illnesses, the hajj ministry said.

The chosen pilgrims come from 150 countries, with a preference given to those performing the ritual for the first time, it added. "I feel like I won a lottery," Egyptian pharmacist Mohammed El Eter said after being selected.

"This is a special, unforgettable moment in one's life. I thank God for granting me this chance, to be accepted among a lot of people who applied," the 31-year-old told this agency.