Millions of Muslims – at least two and a half million say some reports – have begun the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
Some are travelling by train on a brand new 18 kilometre long railway line, with the capacity to carry 180,000 passengers to Hajj sites.
Others are making the journey in cars and buses, or even on foot. They will pour through a mountain pass to a valley at Mina just outside Mecca, retracing the route taken by the Prophet Mohammed 14 centuries ago.
Many Muslims wait for years to get a visa to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
“No words could describe this feeling. It is a great thing,” said one pilgrim.
Another said: “Really it is something that somebody has to be considered lucky, because there are many people who have the opportunity and the wealth, but they have not been there. So if you find yourself here, you have to be thankful to almighty Allah.”
In the past, the Hajj has been marred by deadly stampedes and violence. Saudi Arabia has worked hard to improve facilities to ease the flow of pilgrims, whose numbers are expected to rise sharply this year.