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Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount of Mercy in Arafat ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Waleed Ali

In pictures: Millions scale Mount Arafat as Haj nears completion

After sunset prayers, pilgrims made their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah to prepare for the final ritual.
Updated Aug 11, 2019 02:38am

Nearly 2.5 million Muslim hajj pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Movable crowd control barriers were erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Mecca, 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 Haj.

Clutching brightly coloured umbrellas, pilgrims first braved the blazing sun and then heavy downpours that many welcomed as a blessing.

Some burst into tears as they chanted prayers.

Thousands of faithful had spent the night under the stars, sleeping on prayer rugs or pieces of cardboard.

Trucks were parked at regular intervals on the route leading up to the hill, distributing bottles of water and meals.

Thousands of workers prepared to clear the rubbish that littered the ground.

Helicopters criss-crossed overhead, part of the tight security precautions taken by the pilgrimage's Saudi hosts.

The covering cloth of the Kaaba, known as kiswa, was also changed at Masjid al-Haram in Makkah as part of a yearly ritual which takes place on 9th Zilhaj.

After sunset prayers, pilgrims made their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, another holy site where they slept under the stars to prepare for the final stage of Haj, a ritual “stoning of the devil”.

That marks the beginning of Eidul Adha, the festival of sacrifice, marked on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi labourers change the Kiswa, the protective cover that engulfs the Kaaba which is made from black silk and gold thread. — AFP
Saudi labourers change the Kiswa, the protective cover that engulfs the Kaaba which is made from black silk and gold thread. — AFP

Saudi labourers change the Kiswa, the protective cover that engulfs the Kaaba which is made from black silk and gold thread and is embroidered with Quranic verses. — AFP
Saudi labourers change the Kiswa, the protective cover that engulfs the Kaaba which is made from black silk and gold thread and is embroidered with Quranic verses. — AFP

Syrian pilgrims Moiassar, left, and Abdallah, right, share a moment on a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage. — AP
Syrian pilgrims Moiassar, left, and Abdallah, right, share a moment on a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage. — AP

A woman carries her baby as she walks through Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage. — Reuters
A woman carries her baby as she walks through Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage. — Reuters

Pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat to listen to the Haj sermon. — AFP
Pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat to listen to the Haj sermon. — AFP

A pilgrim prays outside Nimra Mosque in Arafat during the annual pilgrimage. — AP
A pilgrim prays outside Nimra Mosque in Arafat during the annual pilgrimage. — AP

Pilgrims offer prayers at Mount Arafat. — AFP
Pilgrims offer prayers at Mount Arafat. — AFP

Pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
Pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

A pilgrim prays under the rain near Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
A pilgrim prays under the rain near Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

British cyclists who are pedaling all the way from London to Madina, read the Quran at their camp in Arafat, during their haj pilgrimage. — Reuters
British cyclists who are pedaling all the way from London to Madina, read the Quran at their camp in Arafat, during their haj pilgrimage. — Reuters

Pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP
Pilgrims pray at Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy). — AFP

Pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah. — Reuters
Pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah. — Reuters

A woman prays at Mount Arafat, south east of Makkah on Saturday. — AFP
A woman prays at Mount Arafat, south east of Makkah on Saturday. — AFP

Sudanese pilgrims embrace as they congratulate each other for performing the annual hajj pilgrimage near the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat. — AP
Sudanese pilgrims embrace as they congratulate each other for performing the annual hajj pilgrimage near the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat. — AP

A pilgrim grieves as she prays in front of a pillar, where Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of followers. — AP
A pilgrim grieves as she prays in front of a pillar, where Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of followers. — AP

A pilgrim walks in the rain near Mount Arafat, known as Jabal al-Rahma. — AFP
A pilgrim walks in the rain near Mount Arafat, known as Jabal al-Rahma. — AFP

A pilgrim prays on Mount of Mercy in Arafat ahead of the Eidul Azha festival in the holy city of Makkah. — Reuters
A pilgrim prays on Mount of Mercy in Arafat ahead of the Eidul Azha festival in the holy city of Makkah. — Reuters

Syrian pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma. — AFP
Syrian pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma. — AFP

Pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat. — Reuters
Pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat. — Reuters

Pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy ahead of departure to Muzdalifa. — Reuters
Pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy ahead of departure to Muzdalifa. — Reuters

A pilgrim prays on Mount of Mercy in Arafat ahead of the Eidul Azha festival in the holy city of Makkah. — Reuters
A pilgrim prays on Mount of Mercy in Arafat ahead of the Eidul Azha festival in the holy city of Makkah. — Reuters