Riyadh, Jul 19 (EFE).- Muslim pilgrims living in Saudi Arabia on Monday climbed Mount Arafat near the holy city of Mecca to reach the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage amid strict coronavirus restrictions.
Only 60,000 fully vaccinated residents are taking part this year in the annual ritual that before the pandemic usually draws up to 2 million Muslims from around the world.
Before heading to Mount Arafat, the faithful spent the night in the Mina Valley where they started the rituals of the great pilgrimage on Sunday.
Mount Arafat, also known as Mount Mercy, is where prophet Muhammad gave his farewell sermon 14 centuries ago.
Dressed in white robes, the worshippers will spend the entire day at Mount Arafat praying and reciting the Quran before they descend to the neighboring town of Muzdalifa to prepare for the final stages of the Hajj. Tuesday marks the beginning of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.
This year, Saudi Arabia introduced smart technology to assist pilgrims in an attempt to boost contact tracing and reduce the risk of infections.
The faithful will be using a smart card with their identity, their nationality and place of accommodation, as well as information about their health status.
Hajj, which the kingdom limited to only 10,000 people last year, is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a mandatory duty for all Muslims to complete once in a lifetime if they have the financial and physical means to do so.EFE