Over 400000 intending pilgrims without Hajj permits sent back

Haj pilgrimage

The pilgrims will stand at mount Arafat until sunset.

"It's an indescribable feeling, a spiritual feeling".

The arrival of Qatari pilgrims has been a subject of controversy this year after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar, including the closure of border crossings and barring Qatari aircraft from its airspace.

The Chairman, Ogun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr Izhaq Yusuf, has denied media reports that some Ogun pilgrims now performing hajj n Saudi Araba were among those confirmed dead in the holy land.

Responding to reports that some of the pilgrims have had to resort to sleeping outside under bridges, and that the Hajj Board did not make proper accommodation arrangements for them, Hajia Cissey explained the Saudi authorities were to blame for the situation.

"The ill pilgrims are the first to arrive and also the first to leave the plains of Arafat and they observe the day in a special area", he said.

For men, that entails wearing only terrycloth, seamless white garments meant to represent unity among Muslims and equality before God. Tens of thousands of air-conditioned tents have been set up in Mina, between Mount Arafat and Mecca, to house pilgrims.

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Saraki is now in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj and the Senate President reiterated the need for Nigerians irrespective of their religion to pray for Nigeria.

Over the years, the Saudi government has spent billions of dollars to improve the safety of the pilgrimage, particularly in Mina where some of the deadliest incidents have occurred, including a stampede and a collision of two crowds that crushed people under the force in 2015 that killed more than 2,400 people.

More than 300,000 Saudi military personnel and civil servants have been enlisted to assist pilgrims this year, Prince Khalid said. "We have our plans, we have people trained to enforce those plans, but this can not be done only by infrastructure and by what we do".

Saudi Arabia hopes to welcome 30 million pilgrims annually in the kingdom by 2030, the Saudi Gazette said, up from the current 8 million.

Health officials said they are also prepared to deal with any injuries or accidents, and have more than 100 ambulances deployed across the Hajj sites.

"This is the first time I see anything like this, ever", she said.

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