MECCA – The last of the 2.35 million pilgrims completed their mandatory ‘Tawaf’ and ‘Saie’ at Islam’s holiest city here on Tuesday, bringing the five-day Haj season for this year to a close.
In all, 2,352,122 pilgrims traveled to Mecca for this year’s Haj, 1.75 million of whom were from outside Saudi Arabia, according to a statement from Ministry of Culture and Information’s Centre for International Communication (CIC).
About 1 million pilgrims came from Asia, nearly 400,000 traveled from non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and close to 200,000 arrived from African countries. Nearly 100,000 pilgrims traveled from European countries, while the United States and Australia together accounted for around 25,000 pilgrims. Almost 33,000 came from GCC countries.
“Welcoming pilgrims from all around the globe is the honour and duty of Saudi Arabia, under the auspices and direct guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Salman. We make every effort and spare no expense in ensuring that pilgrims have a peaceful and fulfilling Haj” Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad Alawwad said in the statement.
There were 15 medical centres at Mecca and nearby Holy sites, staffed by more than 30,000 trained medical professionals. During the course of Haj, doctors performed more than 2,600 free surgical procedures, and nearly 60,000 pilgrims received some form of medical treatment, CIC said.
“Of the foreigners who traveled to Saudi Arabia for Haj, more than 1.6 million arrived by air, most traveling through Jeddah and Madinah, where airports have special terminals dedicated exclusively to handling Haj pilgrims.”
The focal point of Haj was the vast tent city at Mina, where pilgrims stayed in air-conditioned tents constructed of fire-retardant materials.
The Saudi authorities also created two website dedicated to this year’s Haj season — SaudiWelcomesTheWorld.org and hajj2017.org.
Meanwhile, the first flight (XY9003) of 420 Malaysian pilgrims back to Malaysia will depart today (Sept 6), arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 3.10am on Sept 7. – NST