Qataris, Iranians travel to Saudi for Hajj despite tensions

Saudi authorities have reportedly hired 51,700 Saudi and expat employees in Mina to serve the pilgrims during their stay at the tent city.

Saudi Arabian authorities have started welcoming Hajj pilgrims who have travelled from across the world to undertake the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Including local pilgrims that reside in Saudi Arabia, a total of 1.86 million Muslims performed the Hajj a year ago.

Saudi kings, and the Ottoman rulers of the Hijaz region before them, all adopted the honorary title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, a reference to sites in Mecca and Medina.

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has charged the 91,000 Nigerian pilgrims now performing this years hajj to use the occasion of significance of the Arafat Day tomorrow (Thursday) to pray for the quick recovery of the nation's economy and good health for President Muhammdau Buhari.

While Muslims from all over the world are flying to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, a group of men have biked there to raise funds for Syria.


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

Egyptian pilgrim Ahmed Ali, on his first hajj, said he was grateful to be in Mecca. Iran, which lost 464 pilgrims in the stampede, immediately used the disaster to call for an independent body to take over administering the hajj.

The hajj took place a year ago under the shadow of the two countries' rivalry. "Political issues shouldn't interfere in a religious duty, especially the Haj", Abbas Ali, a 54-year-old Iranian, said on Monday at Jeddah airport, that is the main entry point for the pilgrims. Although 400 Qataris successfully entered the Kingdom, disputes over flight permits and security arrangements left 800 remaining pilgrims stranded in Doha.

Iranians, however, will be allowed to participate in this year's event. "Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), I am going to Makkah, Alhamdulillah I am going to Hajj", she said.

All able-bodied Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their livesWhy does the date of Hajj change each year?


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