Praying for Muslims around the world and a safe Hajj it is estimated that more than two million Muslims have already made the trip to the holy site of Mount Arafat. Wearing white robes to symbolise equality and selflessness, many trekked to the rocky outcrop at dawn.
Muslims believe God is more likely to answer their prayers if they are made within the sacred zone on the mountain plain – the site of the Prophet Mohammed’s last sermon 1,400 years ago. A duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, the five-day Hajj is one of the biggest displays of mass religious devotion in the world.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday – the last three days – will be the key test of improvements introduced by Saudi authorities to try to avoid deadly stampedes during the “stoning of the devil” ritual. More than 360 pilgrims were crushed to death on the Jamarat bridge during the last Hajj. Saudi Arabia plans to spend more than 80 million euros on turning the bridge into a multi-storey structure. The first phase, completed in time for this Hajj, allows up to 250,000 people to cross each hour.