1.8 million pilgrims arrive for Hajj

Final preparations in Makkah, Madinah for most sacred week in the Islamic calendar

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JEDDAH: More than 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia amid final preparations for the most sacred week in the Islamic calendar.

International Hajj flight arrivals ended on Monday, and on Wednesday morning the final batch of pilgrims using the Makkah Route Initiative flew in from Tunisia.

The Makkah Route initiative enables pilgrims to complete Saudi health, visa and immigration procedures in their home countries, with seamless transport to Makkah and Madinah for them and their baggage from the moment they arrive in the Kingdom.

More than 171,000 pilgrims from Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh have benefited from the initiative this year, and it has been widely praised for easing and simplifying the Hajj experience.

Passport chiefs said on Wednesday that this year 1,725,455 Hajj pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia by air, 95,634 by land and 17,250 by sea.

In total the holy city of Makkah is preparing to host more than 2.5 million Hajj pilgrims to perform this year’s rituals, with 16 government agencies providing 50 services to visitors.

Authorities in Makkah and Madinah have undertaken preparations to ensure that pilgrims perform their rituals with ease.

The government has dedicated 350,000 people to help the pilgrims, said Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who toured Makkah and the holy sites on
Sunday.

Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif on Sunday oversaw a military parade for Hajj security forces. He also inspected security preparations for the Hajj.

The pilgrimage will begin on Friday with pilgrims resting in the Mina region before heading to Arafat on Saturday.

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