More than two million Muslims began the annual Hajj on Friday. According to official statistics issued by Saudi General Directorate of Passports, 1.604 million pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia for Hajj, an increase of eight per cent or 117,000 pilgrims compared to the same period in 2018.
In Makkah and other holy sites, the Saline Water Conversion Corporation, SWCC, aims to achieve a new record in 2019, by supplying one million cubic metres of potable water per day during the Hajj season, an increase of 10 per cent compared to 2018.
The area can host 118,000 people per hour and accommodate 70,000 worshipers.
Some 141,800 pilgrims who arrived on 355 flights also benefited from the Makkah Route initiative — a service launched by the Kingdom that includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries.
“All of the arms of state have been deployed (and) we are proud to serve as ‘God’s hosts’,” said security forces spokesman Bassam Attia.
In total some 2.5 million faithful, the majority from abroad, will undertake the pilgrimage this year, according to local media.
“More than 1.8 million visas were delivered online without the need for middlemen. It’s a success,” said Hajj ministry official Hatim bin Hassan Qadi.
“We feel cleansed by achieving this pillar of Islam and meeting people from across the world. It’s marvellous,” said Mohamed Jaafar, a 40-year-old Egyptian pilgrim.