Saudi welcomes 1 million for biggest hajj pilgrimage since pandemic

White-robed worshippers from across the world have packed the streets of Mecca as Islam’s holiest city prepares to host the biggest hajj pilgrimage since the coronavirus pandemic.

Banners welcoming the faithful, including the first international visitors since 2019, festooned squares and alleys, while armed security forces patrolled the ancient city, birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed.

“This is pure joy,” Sudanese pilgrim Abdel Qader Kheder told AFP in Mecca, ahead of the event expected to start on Wednesday. “I almost can’t believe I am here. I am enjoying every moment.”