More than 1.5 million Muslims have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the world's largest annual human assembly which peaks on Saturday, state media said Monday.
"The number of pilgrims arriving from abroad has reached 1.575 million by Saturday evening," SPA state news agency reported.
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Saudi Minister of Hajj Fuad al-Farsi said a total of some 1.8 million Muslims were expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj this year, in addition to between 700,000 and 800,000 pilgrims from within the kingdom, according to local press.
Hajj rituals will begin on Friday, the eighth day in the Muslim lunar calendar month of Dhul hijjah, or the month of hajj.
The pilgrimage will peak on Saturday as the faithful gather in the plain of Mount Arafat, outside Mecca in the western region of the desert kingdom.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam which every capable Muslim should perform at least once.