Sun rises over Arafat as haj pilgrims mark Arafa day

Muslim pilgrims set off at dawn on Tuesday morning to mark Arafa, the annual haj’s most important day.

Worshippers could be seen walking along the streets of Arafat, near Mecca, heading out for Mount Arafat, where Prophet Mohammad is believed to have delivered his final sermon to followers 14 centuries ago.

Saudi authorities said more than 1.6 million pilgrims had already arrived for the pilgrimage as of Sunday (June 25) although the gathering officially starts on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia is preparing to host some 2.6 million pilgrims for the 2023 haj season after removing all COVID-19 restrictions for the first time since 2019.

Haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, is considered the world’s biggest religious gathering.