Over 1.2 million pilgrims arrive at holy site ahead of Haj

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Over 1.2 million pilgrims arrive at holy site ahead of Haj

Six thousand flights successfully arrived at Jeddah and Medinah airport announced the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

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Published: Fri 9 Sep 2016, 11:06 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Sep 2016, 8:38 AM

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced the successful arrival of more than 1,200,000 pilgrims to both King Abdul-Aziz International Airport in Jeddah (KAIA) and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul-Aziz airport in Medinah. GACA announced that that the number of 700,000 pilgrims arrived on 3700 flights at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah which continues to receive pilgrims until the 9th of Dul Hijja.
GACA also announced that Prince Mohammed bin Abdul-Aziz Airport in Madinah and by the fifth of Dul Hijja, witnessed the arrival of 545153 pilgrims on 2296 flights onboard 41 international airliners.
See photos: Muslim pilgrims arrive at the holy site ahead of Haj
GACA recognize and appreciate all the efforts played by the various public and private agencies in making this a very successful season and in providing the ultimate of services to each of and every pilgrim.
The cube-shaped shrine, at the center of Makkah's Grand Mosque, is the site the world's 1.6 billion Muslims pray toward five times a day.
Ahead of Saturday's start of the Haj pilgrimage, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, tens of thousands have come to the Kaaba to circle it, to reach out to its golden gate and to pray. To touch the Kaaba, the metaphorical house of God, offers the faithful a moment of physical contact with Islam's holiest site on a pilgrimage intended to erase past sins.
On Thursday, a young boy wearing white terrycloth robes similar to those of other men gripped his father's hand while walking past the Kaaba. Women from across the world, wearing loose-fitting clothes and forgoing makeup and perfume, joined the worshippers with their hair covered in respect.
Some sat in quiet reflection, with the other faithful passing by them in a swirl. Workers cleaned the white tile floor surrounding the Kaaba as Saudi security forces stood guard nearby. The young supported the old as they offered supplication.
Here is a selection of images by Associated Press photographer Nariman El-Mofty showing the faithful in Mecca ahead of the formal start of the Haj.

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