Around 2.5 million Muslim Hajj pilgrims converged on Mount Arafah in Saudi Arabia Saturday marshalled by tens of thousands of stewards in a bid to prevent any repetition of previous years’ deadly stampedes.
Movable crowd control barriers were erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Makkah, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, where the faithful arrived on foot and in a seemingly endless line of buses.
Raising their palms skywards, the pilgrims set off on the climb to the summit where they held prayers to atone for their sins in a ritual that is regarded as the high point of the annual Hajj.
Pilgrims first braved the hot sun and then heavy downpours that many welcomed as a blessing.
Thousands of faithful had spent the night under the stars, sleeping on prayer rugs or pieces of cardboard.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam which every Muslim is required to complete at least once in their lifetime if they are healthy enough and have the means to do so.
Sources: The National, UAE, Yahoo News