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RIYADH, July 8: The Saudi General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) said Friday the total number of pilgrims this year topped 899,353, including 779,919 pilgrims from abroad and 119,434 from inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia whether Saudi citizens or residents. The ratio of pilgrims from Arab countries to the overall number hit 21.4 percent, from Asian non-Arab countries 53.8 percent and from African non-Arab countries 13.2 percent, the authority added.
General President of the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais announced the success of the first phase of the Presidency’s plan for this year’s Hajj. No single incident was reported among pilgrims, he said in statements to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Sheikh Al-Sudais affirmed that the plan aimed to ensure the best possible service for the pilgrims. He commended the fruitful cooperation among all relevant sectors in serving the pilgrims, citing the integrated and harmonious efforts of all institutions
A sea of white-clad pilgrims descended from mount Arafat at sunset Friday and moved to the nearby rock area of Muzdalifa. After their arrival, the pilgrims performed Maghreb and Esha prayers, the Saudi Press Agency reported. They will spend the night praying and sleeping on the floor in the open, before heading back to Mina before sunrise of Saturday to perform the ritual of the symbolic “Stoning of the Devil”. (KUNA)