2 million pilgrims flock to Mina

2 million pilgrims flock to Mina

2 million pilgrims flock to Mina
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Orient Net
Date: 2018-08-19 12:24
More than two million Muslims started gathering On Sunday (August 19) in Mina valley, near Mecca, for the start of the Hajj.

Hisham Mostafa briefly forgot the war in Syria and his financial worries as he looked upon Islam’s holiest sites for the first time, standing among hundreds of thousands of white-clad Muslims gathered in Mecca ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage.

“This is the first time I see the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba. It is the best feeling of my life to be able to perform the Hajj,” said Mostafa, 50, as he looked at the cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims turn in prayer five times a day.

The accountant traveled to Saudi Arabia from Turkey where he has lived for five years since fleeing Aleppo in Syria. “War destroys everything ... Life in Turkey is hard and I barely earn enough.”

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But he was able to join about 2 million Muslims, including 1.68 million from abroad, flooding Mecca’s narrow streets for the annual rite which starts on Sunday (August 19).

Nayef Ahmed, 37, told Reuters that in order to afford the Hajj he had to sell a plot of land in Yemen.

Pilgrimage is the backbone of a plan to expand tourism under a drive to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil. The Hajj and year-round Umrah generate billions of dollars in revenues from worshippers’ lodging, transport, fees and gifts.

Officials aim to increase the number of Umrah and Hajj pilgrims to 15 million and 5 million respectively by 2020, and hope to double the Umrah number again to 30 million by 2030.


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